KUALA LUMPUR: As the countdown to the London Olympics begins, Malaysians everywhere will be hoping that their badminton shuttler Lee Chong Wei can bring home his first Olympic gold medal.
Despite his ankle injury, Lee is still the best hope for Olympic gold within the Malaysian squad.
The world’s top—seeded shuttler is turning 30 this year.
He’s maintaining his busy training schedule despite the torn ankle tendon he sustained at the Thomas Cup over a month ago.
Having won a silver medal in the men’s singles at the 2008 Beijing games, he said the London Olympics will be his last chance for gold.
"I am not fully recovered, my leg is still painful at times but I will continue to train because the match is fast approaching... but I don’t want to worry too much, I will focus to win. I hope I can do better than a silver this round and win a gold medal," he said.
Malaysia is a badminton nation. Capturing the elusive gold medal at the Olympics has always been the nation’s dream ever since badminton was first included as a medal sport in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
That year, Malaysia won a bronze medal in the men’s doubles, through brothers Rasif and Jalani Sidek
Four years later in Atlanta, Cheah Soon Kit and Yap Kin Hock bagged Malaysia’s first Olympic silver medal in the men’s doubles.
Former Olympian Rasif Sidek believes that Lee still has a fighting chance to defeat his arch rival, China’s Lin Dan.
"If he can reach the final, it will be a 50—50 chance. He’s played against Lin Dan so many times, hopefully Lin is not in good form," he said.
"The one who’s calmer will stand a better chance of winning because in terms of our standards and techniques as well as stamina, we are more or less the same. It all depends on our performance that day," said Lee.
Also capable of pulling off a surprise in London are men’s doubles partners Tan Boon Heong and Koo Kien Keat, currently ranked 8th in the world.
"We were defeated by opponents whom we’d never lost to before. It wasn’t because we were overly confident, it’s because we did not fully appreciate and value the opportunities that were given to us," said Tan.
Hoping to take full advantage of their very first Olympic opportunity will be partners Goh Liu Ying and Chan Peng Soon.
Whilst Malaysia is well—represented in the Olympic Badminton event, the entire nation is hoping they can serve up medal winning performances.