While many feel that the ongoing Malaysian Games (SUKMA) should be a competition to unearth new stars, Leong Jun Hao said that quality participation of established national players would improve the tournament instead.
The organisers raised the age limit from 21 to 23 after the COVID-19 pandemic blighted the competition for four years.
This year’s badminton event was not shorn of local stars, including world number 86 Leong.
“I feel it’s good, as it provides the young shuttlers to test themselves against the more experienced players like me.
“Even for me, playing against my national team-mates makes it a more competitive affair,” Leong told Stadium Astro after the men’s singles number two seed comfortably beat Perak’s Eogene Ewe Eon 21-14, 21-12.
Top seeded Ng Tze Yong of Johor also cruised into the next round after overcoming Anson Cheong 21-8, 21-15.
There was a big upset in the women’s singles as top seeded Eoon Qi Xuan was dumped out by Amanda Yap 18-21, 21-17, 27-25.
Yap, representing Kuala Lumpur, hoped her performance will catch the Badminton Association of Malaysia's (BAM) attention.
“I hope the BAM will consider me after this SUKMA,” said Yap, who was previously overlooked by the national body in February.
Apart from that, it was straightforward affairs for the rest of the higher ranked shuttlers, including women's singles youngsters Myisha Khairul and Siti Nurshuhaini and mixed doubles pair Tee Kai Wun-Toh Ee Wei.
The competition goes on until Saturday at the Axiata Arena.