KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama): Malaysian badminton hero Datuk Lee Chong Wei penned an inspirational message to the Olympic-bound athletes as they prepare for the biggest sports showdown on Earth, set to begin on July 23.
Chong Wei, who is also Malaysia’s Chef-de-Mission (CDM) for the Tokyo Games, said with preparations for the ‘pandemic-torn’ Olympics being very unusual, it might
turn kind for some to beat the odds as dark horses.
The 38-year-old noted that in normal sports calendars Olympics preparations take about two years through the qualifiers and programmes organised by the National
Sports Council and sports associations to sharpen skills, toughen drills and strengthen mental strength, but added that this is different due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said that the pandemic led to athletes training under safety bubbles of strict quarantine, adding that many tournaments and training schedules have been halted.
The three-time Olympic silver medallist – and the country’s most successful athlete so far – also recalled his last victory on the Olympics stage, beating former champion
and nemesis Lin Dan of China in the 2016 Rio Games semi-finals.
“When I beat Lin Dan, nothing beats pride and honour. I was dead tired at that time in the semis. I thought I would have lost to Lin Dan again. But I told myself not
to let down the 32 million people’s prayers (for me) back home.
“Giving me the extra push to clinch the winning point. How the country celebrated is still fresh in my mind. Imagine the national eruption if my tired body didn’t give
way and I could beat Chen Long the day after?
“I missed my chance. It’s your turn now, comrades. It’s the time for only the tough to get going,” Lee wrote in a post on his Facebook page.
After losing the chance to deliver the country’s most awaited gold medal twice, in the 2008 Beijing and the 2012 London Games, both after defeat to Lin Dan, Chong Wei was at the verge of winning the elusive gold at the Rio Games, but this time was denied Chinese player Chen Long in the final.
Lee also reminded the athletes that, every time they don the national crest and enter the competition arena, 32 million Malaysians will be cheering and praying
for their success.
“Be a Malaysian…..(a) hero,” he added. – Bernama