Tag Archive | "lee chong wei"

Malaysia’s Silver Boy

Malaysia’s Silver Boy


From a facebook olympic badminton page (click on pic to link). Less than half an hour after the match, this picture had more than 7,000 likes.

It was the match that most of us on both sides of the causeway were waiting for — Lee Chong Wei from Malaysia battling it out in a well-earned showdown with the best badminton player in history. Many of us were hoping the perpetually number two player who took a silver in Beijing 2008 and another silver in last year’s world badminton championships, would finally get a taste of being number one this year by beating his nemesis, Lin Dan, from China.

The fact that China has been winning in all the sports they’ve been competing in, probably contributed to the anticipation of schadenfreude from citizens of countries where governments have resorted to (without any choice! because the locals are not reproducing fast enough!) importing players from the mainland in their medal campaigns.

Yes sir, Lee Chong Wei is 100% made in Malaysia, in a northern state called Penang known for its fondness for badminton, and tangy laksa.

Chong Wei was talent spotted by a local coach when he was only 11, while playing badminton with his father. Nicknamed Hoi Char Kee (matchstick) because of his skinny frame, he was said to have spent more time in the training hall than at home in his early days.

“He was here so often that his father used to scold him for skipping meals,” said Berapit Badminton Hall owner Ng Chiew Heng.

The effort paid off when he was drafted into the national squad at age 17.

Thirteen years, five gold medals, four silver medals and seven bronze medals, the olympic gold would prove to be elusive forever for the 30 year-old national hero.

But no one could have faulted him for not trying. Shortly before the Olympics, Chong Wei had been putting on a steady show of solid matches and was even ranked number one in the 2012 Thomas Cup in May — until he sprained his ankle during a match against Denmark’s Peter-Gade Christensen. According to reports, he was seen crying in pain as he was wheeled out of the training centre, and sent to a hospital in an ambulance.

The two months after that was tense, to say the least. Recovering on a diet of porridge and stem cell treatment on his torn ankle ligaments, he underwent intense 13-hour sessions of rehab everyday and at one point, had to deal with a suicidal father.

Still, Malaysia’s badminton star decimated China’s Chen Long 21-13, 21-14 in the semi-finals while not performing “at his best”, to set up a repeat of the 2008 Beijing finals — one that he lost as he buckled under the pressure of an unfriendly audience.

But as eager as he was to “validate” his career with a gold medal against Lin Dan, it was not to be. Chong Wei won the first bout 21-15 only to have “Super Dan” bounce back with a 10-21 victory. As the score stood 19-18, cheapskate fans were screaming at youtube for its suddenly, unkind and definitely untimely lag. And when Chong Wei’s final shot landed long, some managed to catch Lin sprinting around the Wembley Arena in joy as his defeated opponent slumped in court, exhausted and choking back tears. Others had to catch the delayed replay, or watch facebook for live updates, or slightly snarky comments from neighbours up north.

“At least one ahead of Singapore”, went one comment.

“At least our silver is fully Malaysian”, went another.


Anyway, here are more reasons why you should adore Lee Chong Wei who by the way, was conferred the “Datuk” title in 2008.

I’m sorry I only got an olympic silver?? Dude, you need to have a public holiday named in your honour.

51,300 likes within two hours of posting.

The Singapore women table tennis team are playing Japan on Monday morning by the way, if anyone’s interested.