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LONDON: Lee Chong Wei may have fallen short but he walked tall at the Wembley Arena on Sunday.
Lin Dan may have stopped Chong Wei yet again from becoming the Olympic champion, and in doing so kept Malaysia waiting for gold, but no one could fault the two-time silver medallist for his effort.
Having been blown away by Lin Dan when they met at the same stage in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Chong Wei produced a near perfect performance in Sunday's final but luck deserted him when he needed it most.
|Lee Chong Wei with his London Olympics silver medal. Pix: Khairul Ghazali|
"I knew that the final would require me to produce my best and despite the defeat, I did just that but couldn't find a way past Lin Dan yet again," said Chong Wei, who shed tears as the flags were raised during the victory ceremony.
Although the Jalur Gemilang was hoisted, for the second successive time following two consecutive Olympics (Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004) of national athletes failing to achieve it, Chong Wei's regret was that he failed in his bid for the Negaraku to be heard for the first time at a medal ceremony.
"This will be my biggest regret as my condition improved dramatically with each passing match. I took to the court against Lin Dan as confident as I had ever felt as I had nothing to lose. I felt no pressure as I didn't expect that I would play as well as I eventually did in the Olympics," said Chong Wei.
The ankle injury Chong Wei suffered during the Thomas Cup had threatened to derail his Olympic bid but the Malaysian said the two weeks of intensive training in Bath had helped him tremendously.
"After the first match (against Ville Lang), my confidence was boosted and I resolved that I had to make the final. I am sorry I failed to win the gold but I tried my best."
That he did and Malaysia can only hope that his indomitable spirit serves as an inspiration to the young athletes out there for the nation needs more of them to ensure that the Olympic challenge comes from more quarters and not just from one individual, as was the case in Beijing with Chong Wei.
London isn't over yet but for the moment, Chong Wei is Malaysia's only medallist and he deserves all the praise he can get.