KUALA LUMPUR: Lee Chong Wei has not lost his love for badminton after retiring.
The three-time Olympic silver medallist and former World No 1 will be cheering for the national players in front of his TV set in Kuala Lumpur when Malaysia play Indonesia in the men’s team final today.
Chong Wei, who retired from badminton in June last year due to nose cancer, hopes the national team will upset the hot favourites for the gold medal for the first time in 14 years at the Muntinlupa Sports Complex in Manila.
Chong Wei led Malaysia to the men’s team gold medal in the 2005 edition, also in the Philippines, which was the country’s last success in the event.
In the 2005 final, Malaysia edged Indonesia (3-2), who had world champion Taufik Hidayat, Sony Dwi Kuncoro and Markis Kido-Hendra Setiawan in their squad, for the gold.
Chong Wei said the victory in 2005 was huge as Indonesia were expected to beat Malaysia easily.
“It was a great moment for me then to win the gold. Our current team, like in 2005, are also the underdogs tomorrow (today), but I hope they will pull off an upset
“My advice to our players is not to feel nervous as they have nothing to lose. In 2005, Indonesia were strong in the singles and doubles, but we played our hearts out for the title.
“Our shuttlers should not feel inferior They need to fight for every point and show great character to rattle the Indonesians.
“Unfortunately, I am not in Manila. I will watch the final from my television set in KL. I hope they will battle hard and end the country’s drought,” said Chong Wei.
In the final today, Lee Zii Jia (men singles) and Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik (men’s doubles) will be depended on to deliver the opening two points to set the tone for Malaysia. World No 14 Zii Jia is expected to face sixth seeded Jonathan Christie in the opening match while World No 11 Aaron-Wooi Yik are expected to face fifth-ranked Fajar Alfian-Rian Ardianto. While it would be tough for Zii Jia, Aaron-Wooi Yik have a bright chance of winning their doubles match as they have never lost to the Indonesian pair.
“Although we have beaten them in all three previous meetings, we do not want to take things for granted.
“It is a team event and every player will be motivated to win a point for their country.
“Every player in our squad needs to play to their true ability and do their best on the court. Nothing is impossible and I hope we can bring back the title,” said Aaron.