DRAW: Chong Wei’s road to gold dicey
LEE CHONG Wei was handed a tough route to the final after he was drawn to meet China's third seed Chen Long in the semi-finals of the London Olympics.
Men's doubles Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong had it even worse when they were thrown in the same group as second seeds and title contenders Chung Jae Sung-Lee Yong Dae of South Korea.
Chong Wei, the top seed, has an easy Group A match against Ville Lang of Finland and should also beat Simon Santoso of Indonesia in a possible second round clash before a quarter-final meeting with Japan's Kenichi Tago or Nguyen Tien Minh of Vietnam.
However, his big test will come the semi-finals against Chen Long who has beaten the Malaysian World No 2 three times in their last five meetings.
However, Chong Wei, when contacted in Bath yesterday, doesn't think it is a difficult draw and said he takes every player seriously.
"I am happy with the draw as every opponent is tough. My aim is to focus on one opponent at a time. Past records mean nothing as nothing can compare to playing at Olympic level," said Chong Wei.
"Every player has qualified on merit and must be given due respect.
"I am expected to play Simon Santoso in the last 16 and although the stats are in my favour, let me make it clear that I will give it my all in every round. It's pointless talking about potential opponents when I need to clear one at a time."
If Chong Wei gets past Chen Long, he will, in all probability come up against arch rival Lin Dan of China in a repeat of the 2008 Beijing final but the latter himself faces a tricky second round where he is expected to meet former Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia.
"We have not seen Taufik after the Indon Open and it could prove to be tricky for Lin Dan, but I am sure Lin Dan will prevail," said Chong Wei, who expressed with the training stint in Bath.
The contingent leaves for London today where they will continue training at the Wembley Arena.
"I have been informed that I will not be a part of the march past in the opening ceremony. I have little choice but to respect the management's decision," said Chong Wei with a touch of disappointment.
"My focus has not changed. I will do my best to deliver for Malaysia, that is my promise to all Malaysians."
Meanwhile, Kien Keat-Boon Heong are in a for a struggle as not only do they have Jae Sung-Yong Dae in their group but also former world champions Tony Gunawan-Howard Bach of the US and Japan's Naoki Kawamae-Shoji Sato. Only two pairs advance to the last eight.
Should they clear the group stage, they are likely to meet either fourth-seeded Koreans Ko Sung Hyun-Yoo Yeon Seong or Indonesia's Mohammad Ahsan-Bona Septano.
However, men's doubles chief coach Tan Kim Her, in a telephone interview from the Univeristy of Bath, is unperturbed and believes Kien Keat-Boon Heong can make it to the quarter-finals.
"I am still happy with the draw and our target is to reach the quarter-finals. We were hoping to avoid Jae Sung-Yong Dae but now, Kien keat-Boon Heong must go all out to beat them to be assured of a place in the last eight," said Kim Her.
"We have to be cautious against Naoki-Shoji as they can be dangerous but we should beat Tony-Bach. The key match will be against the Koreans where Kien Keat-Boon Heong must play aggressive and last the pace."
Mixed doubles Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying are also in for a torrid time as they are in Group D with second seeds Xu Chen-Ma Jin of China, Sudket Prapakamol-Saralee Thungthongkam of Thailand and Taiwan's Chen Hung Ling-Cheng Wen Hsing.
Group A: 1-Lee Chong Wei, Ville Lang (Fin);
Group B: 8-Simon Santoso (Ina), Michael Lahnsteiner (Aut), Raul Must (Est);
Group C: 8-Kenichi Tago (Jpn); Niluka Karunaratne (SL);
Group D: 10-Nguyen Tien Minh (Vie), Tan Yuhan (Bel), P. Kashyap (Ind);
Group E: 3-Chen Long (Chn), Boonsak Ponsana (Tha);
Group F: 16-Wong Wing Ki (HK), Edwin Ekiring (Uga); Brice Lerverdez (Fra);
Group G: 5-Peter Gade Christensen (Den), Pedro Martins (Por).
Group H: 13-Shon Wan Ho (Kor), Vladimir Ivanov (Rus), Hsu Jen Hao (Tai).
Group I: 12-Jan Jorgensen (Den), Misha Zilberman (Isr), Derek Wong (Sin);
Group J: 7-Lee Hyun Il (Kor), Rodrigo Pacheco Carillo (Per).
Group K: 14-Marc Zwiebler (Ger), Mohamed Ajfan Rasheed (Mal), Dmytro Zavadsky (Ukr).
Group L: 4-Chen Jin (Chn), Przemyslaw Wacha (Pol).
Group M: 15-Rajiv Ouseph (Bri), Hendri Hurskainen (Swe), Kevin Cordon (Gua).
Group N: 6-Sho Sasaki (Jpn), Virgil Soeroredjo (Sur).
Group O: 11-Taufik Hidayat (Ina), Pablo Abian (Spa), Petr Koukal (Cze).
Group P: 2-Lin Dan (Chn), Scott Evans (Ire).
Group A: 1-Cai Yun-Fu Haifeng (Chn), Fang Chieh Min-Lee Sheng Mu (Tai), Ross Smith- Glen Warfe (Aus), Ingo Kindervater-Johannes Schoettler (Ger).
Group B: 4-Ko Sung Hyun-Yoo Yeon Seong (Kor), Mohammad Ahsan-Bona Septano (Ina), Issara Bodin-Maneepong Jongjit (Tha), Adam Cwalina-Michal Logosz (Pol).
Group C: 3-Mathias Boe-Carsten Mogensen (Den), Chai Biao-Guo Zhendong (Chn), Dorian James-Willem Viljoen (SA), Vladimir Ivanov-Ivan Sozonov (Rus).
Group D: 2-Chung Jae Sung-Lee Yong Dae (Kor), Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong (Mas, Tony Gunawan-Howard Bach (US), Naoki Kawamae- Shoji Sato (Jpn).