MEMORABLE: Epic Olympic final motivates him to qualify for Rio
LIEW Daren was one of the lucky national players who witnessed the titanic Olympic men's singles final between compatriot Lee Chong Wei and China's Lin Dan at the Wembley Arena and the unforgettable experience will drive him to qualify for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.
Daren, 25, said he suffered watching Chong Wei being edged by Lin Dan in a match he described as the best he has ever watched.
Being one of Chong Wei's sparring partners as the World No 2 prepared for the Olympics at the University of Bath, Daren was allowed by the BA of Malaysia (BAM) to stay on until the completion of the badminton event on Aug 5 and the latter enjoyed every moment of his good fortune.
"I have never played in the Olympics but the experience of staying there throughout and watching one of the greatest finals has spurred me to qualify for the Rio de Janeiro Games," said Daren.
"Chong Wei had raised his performance in the final to a different level while Lin Dan withstood the pressure. It was a special moment and I was fortunate to witness it. The only disappointment is that Chong Wei missed the gold after coming so close.
"Chong Wei's performance has given me the confidence and belief that I can qualify for the next Olympics. Of course, I may still have to battle him for a place in the 2016 Olympics squad as he has indicated he may play in Rio barring injuries. That will be a challenge for me.
"We have also been going through a similar programme with the difference probably being the hard work he puts in and his hunger to be successful at the highest level.
"There were many things I learnt during the my three weeks in London which will only make me a stronger player."
Daren also said the qualifying process will soon be much easier as a number of established players like Peter Gade Christensen of Denmark, Indonesia's Taufik Hidayat and probably Lin Dan would all have retired from the international scene by then.
Daren's immediate target is to break into the top 20 and make it to the top 10 by the time he competes in Rio. He is currently ranked World No 27.
"I must be more consistent in the Super Series. I must make the quarter-finals at least and gradually improve from there," said Daren.
"There will be many players, who have been around for a decade or more set to retire by next year, so there will be opportunities to do well on the international stage and I must take full advantage of this."
Daren will get an early chance in the China Masters on Sept 11-16 where the top players are expected to give it a miss.