Badminton: Malaysia ups gold stake at London Olympics

Malaysia's gold mining magnate Andrew Kam Tuesday offered a two million ringgit ($627,844) gold bar to any member of his country's badminton team who brings home an Olympic gold.

"I would like to issue a challenge to our Malaysian badminton team: if any of you bring home a gold medal at London 2012, there is a two million ringgit gold bar waiting for you here. Gold for Gold," he said in a statement.

The nation's hopes for what would be its first ever Olympic gold medal, rest on the shoulders of world number two and silver medallist in Beijing in 2008, Lee Chong Wei in the men's singles.

However, the country's badminton hero Lee said last Friday he has not fully recovered from an ankle injury and is unsure of whether he will be in top form for London, his last chance to win Olympic gold.

"I hope one of the badminton players will win the Olympic gold medal and lay claim to the gold bar. This is a very good and timely offer," Lee told reporters.

Among the other players in the team are the men's doubles duo Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong.

"As Malaysians, we recognise the players' hard work and sacrifice, and as such must do our part to spur them on," said Kam, who is also chairman of KLRC, a badminton club in Malaysia that trains professional players.

The Malaysian government will award 1.0 million ringgit to any Olympic gold winners.

In London, Malaysia will be taking part in nine sports: badminton, diving, cycling, archery, fencing, swimming, shooting, sailing and athletics.

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