Monday, August 18, 2008

No GOLD, But SILVER

The expectations of the whole nation to bring back Malaysia's first-ever Olympic gold medal proved to be too heavy a burden for Lee Chong Wei.

He failed to bring out his best and blew the chance to win the RM1mil reward for gold – suffering a 12-21, 8-21 thrashing by top seed Lin Dan of China in the men's singles final at the Beijing University of Technology Gymnasium last night.

Chong Wei was erratic on court. He made half-court returns and the strong net-play performance he showed in earlier rounds was missing from his game.

Lin Dan pulled away from 8-3 to 16-8 and wrapped up the first game in 20 minutes. The two-time world champion's confidence grew as he took control in the second game and was already up 8-0 before Chong Wei picked up his first point.

The slouched shoulders and grim look were telling as Chong Wei eventually conceded defeat in 19 minutes.

Despite the tame loss, Chong Wei will receive RM300,000 from the government for securing the silver medal. He will also enjoy a reward of RM3,000 monthly under the Olympic incentive scheme and it will take effect from next month.

The Olympic silver medal from Chong Wei is still the first for Malaysia in 12 years.

The pressure was on Lin Dan to ensure China match their three-gold haul from the 2004 Athens Games.

And he let out a giant scream of delight after securing the winning point while Chong Wei was left pondering on what might have been.

“I tried to follow his speed at the start but he was in total control. My heart wanted to take him on but I just could not bring it out,” said the second seeded Malaysian.

On what coach Misbun Sidek told him before the start of the second game, Chong Wei said: “He told me to play a faster game but I could not follow. But there's no excuse for losing. This is my worst defeat by him.”

On whether he would still aim to play in the 2012 London Olympics, Chong Wei said: “I will have to wait and see first after the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou.”

Lin Dan, who became the first men's singles player to win the Olympic title as the top seed, said he had sleepless nights thinking about delivering the gold for China.

“I concentrated hard on trying to play a stable game each time. I am glad I was able to do it here,” he said.

Although Chong Wei lost, Badminton Association of Malaysia president Datuk Mohd Nadzmi Salleh hoped that his success to make the final would inspire younger players.

“Although he did not win, I am happy that Chong Wei has made it to such a level. We will try again in London Olympics in four years' time but the important thing is we have to start planning now. We have to bring in our juniors into the national set-up,” he said.

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