NEMESIS: Chong Wei goes into final against Lin Dan with vengeance on his mind
LEE Chong Wei will be in a unique position going into tomorrow's London Olympics men's singles final against nemesis Lin Dan.
He has already won one "final" and that is going to be a galvanising factor in his bid to end his, and Malaysia's pain.
For Chong Wei, Lin Dan has denied him too many times in major finals -- be it at the Olympics, World Championships or Asian Games while for Malaysia, the wait for Olympic gold has gone on for too long.
The good news though is that Chong Wei has improved with every match and his 21-13, 21-14 demolition of Chen Long in the semi-finals yesterday was his best performance since starting his campaign on Monday. Lin Dan beat South Korea's Lee Hyun Il 21-12, 21-10.
The ankle injury which threatened to at one stage prevent him from even coming to London has long been forgotten and the Malaysian is primed for a major assault on Olympic gold tomorrow, four years after Lin Dan simply blew him away at the same stage of the Beijing Games.
That was four years ago and Chong Wei said he will prepare for the final with memories of how he came within one match point of winning the World Championships against Lin Dan at the same venue.
"I have made the final and the feeling of relief, I must admit, is immense. The pressure I felt was unbelievable as I wanted desperately to make the final. I came to England after what I would say was just 50 per cent of what I would have liked to be.
"It was only in Bath where I was able to train 100 per cent and I am so glad that I was able to match my Beijing Olympics achievement," said Chong Wei.
That, however, doesn't mean he is satisfied with another silver-medal finish.
"No, that is not going to be the case. I am going to fight as hard as I can to win Malaysia's first gold medal at the Olympics. I went into the semi-finals with the thought that it was the final but that was just to get over the crossing line. Now it is the real final."
That will require proper planning and strategising and if the match against Chen Long is any indication, Chong Wei has two great coaches in Tey Seu Bock and Rashid Sidek in his corner.
"Our plan was for Chong Wei to be in the lead at the break and win the first game. He was told not to allow Chen Long to dictate terms and Chong Wei executed the plan perfectly. He varied his game between playing with speed and patience and Chen Long was left confused," said Seu Bock.
Rashid, who showed more emotion during the semi-final than he ever has, said: "We must now focus on preparing Chong Wei for the final. He has to end Malaysia's wait for Olympic gold."
Malaysians share the sentiment and will be willing Chong Wei to victory tomorrow.
Meanwhile, China's top seeds Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei defeated compatriots Chen Xu and Ma Jin, the second seeds, 21-11, 21-17 yesterday to win the Olympic mixed doubles badminton title.
Denmark's Joachim Fischer and Christinna Pedersen de feated Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir of Indonesia 21- 12, 21-12 for the bronze.