He entered the arena like a valiant gladiator and emerged a true hero. After that game, we can all say that Chong Wei is one real Malaysian hero, even minus the gold medal. The way Chong Wei carried himself in the months before the Olympics, diligently training while nursing and recuperating from injuries, spoke aloud of his determination to get the nation’s first Olympic gold medal. He was a much disciplined sportsman and a true professional.
There was never a doubt that Chong Wei was under tremendous pressure but he prevailed in the end to set up the championship clash with Lin Dan. Chong Wei delivered on his promise that was to do his utmost to enter the final and fight for gold till the end. That he did not win the gold medal is of no consequence, not after he stole the nation’s heart with a fighting display of the highest note in one of the most enthralling badminton finals in recent times.
We can also agree on another point. For 79 pulsating minutes at least, Chong Wei united 28 millions Malaysians. Considering how we, Malaysians, are often on opposing ends on so many issues, those precious minutes Chong Wei was on court were like a badly needed tonic to put us back on track again, even momentarily. It gave us the rare opportunity to ponder on the good, positive vibes that make us proud citizens of what should have been a great nation.
Well, Chong Wei might have brought the silver medal home from the London Olympics but there is no silver lining in sight for Malaysian badminton. Even the man-of-the-hour himself readily agreed. We must quickly pick up the pace of our training programmes and improve on whatever is necessary; a concerned Chong Wei said that “The search for the next Malaysian champion must be stepped up. I won’t be playing forever and we must ensure that there are players coming through the ranks to take over,” he said.
Chong Wei wants a successor. But there is none in sight yet. This is the issue facing Malaysian badminton today. How much longer will Malaysia depend on Chong Wei to bring glory? Could this be the reason why Chong Wei hinted that he may compete in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016 if he was still able and fit to do so
So where is the next Lee Chong Wei? Are there any around now? Some of the top-ranked shuttlers in the back-up squad are Liew Daren, Chan Kwong Beng, Chong Wei Feng, Misbun Ramdan Misbun, Mohd Arif Abdul Latif, Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin and Zulfadli Zulkifli. The current scenario is worrying for Malaysian badminton. Chong Wei has no successor and the most senior doubles pair of Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong has reached their peak. Their Olympic outing was described as a dismal failure. Their seven-year partnership has reached the end of the road.
Many badminton schools and clubs such as Prince and princess Club (PPB) have reported a surge in interest due to his spirited performance in London. Hopefully, some future stars will emerge from this renewed interest in the sport. Badminton is a sport for everyone. Anyone can pick up a racket and be playing a fun game within minutes, but with practice and training it can be an intense sport for the most skilled and fit athletes.
The Prince and Princess of Badminton (PPB) Club was officially launched on Monday, 1 October 2012 at the Centre Court, Perbadanan Putrajaya by the Minister of Youth and Sports, Y.B. Dato’ Sri Ahmad Shabery Bin Cheek. The club is owned by...