SOLDIERING ON: Chong Wei to play on till 2014
THE world may not see Lee Chong Wei at the Olympics ever again but for Malaysians, there is still hope as the shuttler is not about to hang up his racquet just yet.
As disappointed as he was in losing yesterday's men's singles final to China's Lin Dan at the Wembley Arena, Chong Wei was already looking to the future with the 2014 Asian Games and Commonwealth Games as his targets.
And there was also the satisfaction, despite losing in the final for the second successive Games, that he had given the match his best but Lin Dan had been simply the better player. Neither did Chong Wei blame the weight of the nation's expectations for him falling at the final stage again.
"I can only thank the nation for the support that I have received for this has played a major part in my success. I may be a silver medallist again but I hope the nation understands that I tried my best. In fact, I didn't expect to make the final for when I came to Bath (for the final phase of training), I was only 50 per cent ready but I worked very hard in Bath and this paid off in the Olympics," said Chong Wei.
Chong Wei said the turning point for him in the Olympics was when he beat Finland's Ville Lang in the first round.
"I had that feeling back, playing competitively for the first time since the Thomas Cup and it improved with each passing match. I really felt good in the quarter-final against P. Kashyap and was in top form for the semi-final against Chen Long.
"I didn't go into the final with any pressure as I knew that I had to fight if I wanted to win the gold and I am proud, despite losing, for staying in there till the end."
Chong Wei, however, couldn't help but rue the net cord coming to Lin Dan's aid when the score was 18-16 in favour of the Malaysian in the deciding game.
"I didn't feel any emotion when I was leading 18-16 as I didn't want a repeat of last year's World Championships (when he led 19-16 and then twice held match point only to end up as the runner-up) but when the shuttle trickled over and Lin Dan won the point, I couldn't help but feel that luck was once again favouring him."
The final ended 15-21, 21-10, 21-19 in favour of Lin Dan and Chong Wei paid credit to his opponent.
"I suppose it is my fate that I am in the same era as Lin Dan and I can only express my admiration for him. He has worked very hard to stay where he is and, seeing as I won silver again (laughs), so have I.
"This is not the end for me though as I will go on for at least two more years. I want to win the Asian Games gold (for the first time) and also defend the Commonwealth Games title in 2014."
Lin Dan also signalled that he isn't done yet and given the gap between him and Chong Wei with the chasing pack, the world can look forward to more titanic battles between the two and surely, there is one major triumph out there for the Malaysian who has, for the second successive time, put the nation on the Olympic medal tally.
Meanwhile, China completed a clean sweep of the five gold medals after Chai Yun-Fu Haiseng beat Denmark's Mathias Boe-Carsten Mogensen 21-16, 21-15 for the men's doubles crown.