Myanmar badminton heading in the right direction
Badminton is going big in Myanmar and are confident that the sport is headed in the right direction.
The 29th Sea Games is another stop for the country that host this year's Badminton Asia Under-17 and Under-15 championships in Yangon from Oct 4-8 at the National Indoor Stadium.
At the recent Badminton Asia Junior (Under-19) Championships in Jakarta Myanmar's rising women's shuttler Thet Htar Thuzar reached the third round before falling to China's Wang Zhiyi.
There is not much medal hope in the KL Sea Games but Myanmar Badminton Federation secretary-general Nyan Lwin believes the sport in headed in the right direction for Myanmar to produce winners at international level.
Htar Thuzar is one name that stands out. Daughter of former Asian Junior champion Tun Tun Zaw, the 18-year-old Htar Thuzar is in Kuala Lumpur for Sea Games. Tun Zaw won the Asian junior title in Iran in 1991.
At the Asian Junior (Under-19) meet in Jakarta the Myanmar lass pulled off an upset when she defeated Thailand's sixth seed Chananchida Jucharoen 21-19, 12-21, 21-15. Chananchida is also in the Thailand women's team for the Sea Games. In the second round Htra Thuzar beat Nepal's Rasila Maharja 21-12, 21-8.
"We have produced badminton winners in the past but did not reach a higher level due to various reasons. However, things have changed and we aim to make Myanmar at least as a threat to the game's powerhouses in this region," said Nyaw Lwin.
Myanmar also have a bright star -Aung Myo Htoo - in the men's singles and Nyan Lwin is confident that the 18-year-old will make inroads in the sport.
For the record Myanmar had a fair amount of achievements in Sea Games badminton - the last being at the 1995 Sea Games in Chiangmai when the country won the bronze medal in the men's team event.
Myanmar also won a bronze in the men's team event in the 1981 Sea Games in Manila.
"The main draw back is the lack of international exposure for our players. However, all that is changing now and we are on track to fight for honours in international tournaments," said Nyaw Lwin.
Myanmar have a tough draw in the men's and women's team events but Nyaw Lwin said the exposure in KL will do the their players a world of good.
The Myanmar men's team is drawn in the bottom half and meet Singapore (3/4 seeds) in the quarter-finals. The winners will take on the winners of Malaysia - Laos tie in the semi-finals. Malaysia are seeded second in the men's team event.
The women's team will face Malaysia in the quarter-finals. The winners will face the winners of the second seeds Indonesia and Laos in the semi-finals.
"It is very tough draw for us in the team events but we hope to get a favourable draw in the individual events," said Nyan Lwin.
Nyan Lwin is a geologist and is determined to make badminton a top three sport after football and sepak takraw in Myanmar and is working hand in hand with Robin Thin who is the chairman of the Myanmar Umpires Committee.