KUALA LUMPUR: Two of Malaysia's top badminton shuttlers are quitting the national team, officials confirmed Sunday (Dec 16).
World number six mixed doubles players Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying will be leaving the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) in January after the pair sent in their resignation letters last month.
"After discussions with various stakeholders, BAM has accepted their resignation, effective Jan 1, 2019," a statement from the body read.
It did not say why Chan, 30, and Goh, 29, who both took silvers at the Rio 2016 Summer Games, were quitting the national sports body.
But association president Norza Zakaria told AFP that the duo, who've been playing together since 2008 according to local media, merely wanted to chart their own careers apart from the national body.
"They wanted to become independent, so they thought that it was better for them to be outside to focus on their Olympic ambitions," he said.
"It's a mutual agreement by both parties. We would definitely want them to be in the Olympics."
Norza disagreed that the duo's resignations were a setback for the sport and that they could still return as players in national events.
"Independent players, they will play outside, but we will register them as national players," he said.
Both Chan and Goh, he said, were free to find their own sponsors now and could still take part in future tournaments though on their expenses.
Malaysian Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq said the ministry will continue to help the pair although they have decided to quit BAM. He added that the ministry respected their decision.
“They met me two weeks ago to inform me of their decision, but they also stated their aim and desire to continue playing and bringing glory to Malaysia, including qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and winning medals,” he said.
He said it was now his duty to smoothen things between the pair and BAM as well as strengthen their relationship with the ministry.
The pair are the latest shuttlers to quit the national body after earlier reports that it was trimming down its national team.
The Star reported in early December that the national squad would be whittled down to 48 shuttlers by the end of January, down from a 60-player line-up.
Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin, 27, who was fined in June for smoking during a tournament, quit the body in November.