Chong Wei One Step Away From Making Olympic History
From Zulhilmi Supaat
LONDON : Datuk Lee Chong Wei is just one step away from making Olympic history – winning the much coveted men’s singles gold medal which may also be Malaysia’s first ever gold medal in an Olympics.
Trailing in his footsteps are Malaysia’s men’s doubles pair Koo Kean Keat and Tan Boon Heong who will also be in contention to do the same in the badminton competition if they prevail in their semifinal encounter Saturday.
Chong Wei, the world number two and the top seed of the tournament, beat Cheng Long of China 21-13, 21-14 in 54 minutes in today’s semifinals of the London Olympics at the Wembley Arena here.
All Malaysians can be expected to be holding their breath when he faces his arch nemesis and defending champion Lin Dan of China in the final this Sunday.
Lin Dan defeated Lee Hyun Il of South Korea 21-12, 21-10 in 39 minutes in the other semis.
Sunday’s clash of the titans will be repeat of the 2008 Beijing Olympics in which Chong Wei had to play bridesmaid to the man called Super Dan.
In Beijing four years ago, Lin Dan beat the Malaysian 21-12, 21-8.
What ever the results, Malaysia can be assured of a silver medal from Chong Wei but as he is playing in his last Olympics, the stakes are very high not only for himself but because all in Malaysia are counting on him to deliver the elusive Olympic gold medal.
In Friday’s semifinals, Chong Wei led Chen Long 7-0 in the first set before widening the gap to 19-13 and sealed the game in 23 minutes.
In the second set, the Malaysian who was trailing 3-6 levelled the score and led all the way to the match point in 28 minutes.
Chong Wei after being away for nearly two month due to an ankle injury during the Thomas Cup tournament in May, said he had expected a tough match against Chen Long, who is one rung below him in the world ranking.
“The first set was crucial.
I knew I must win it to boost me.
And I didn’t expect to win it quite easily.
“But personally, I’ve met my target here. I wanted to be in the final,” he told reporters.
On his battle against Lin Dan this Sunday, Chong Wei said he needed to prepare on his mental strength.
“Maybe its different now compared to Beijing in 2008 when we battled at Lin Dan’s home soil.
The Wembley Arena is a neutral ground,” he said.
But Chong Wei admitted that he is starting to feel the pressure just as he did before facing Lin Dan in in the final in Beijing.
Their head-to-head recor is 9:20, in favour of Lin Dan.
In their last meeting this year, during the All England Tournament in March, Lin Dan was leading at 21-19, 6-2 before the Malaysian retired due to injury in the second set.
Chong Wei last won his match against Lin Dan at the South Korea Open in January, this year, beating him 12-21, 21-18, 21-14.
Meanwhile, Koo and Tan, the world number eight pair will have to overcome world number two pair, Cai Yun/Fu Haifeng of China in Saturday’s semi-finals for a shot at the gold medal.