It’s always the same when it comes to the really big events, whether it’s football’s World Cup or the Olympic Games – the closer these tournaments get, the more you want to be sure that you are in the best of form and shape. Yet, in a second, fate or an opponent can intervene and suddenly, dreams of glory are in tatters.
It won’t be any consolation to Malaysia’s badminton star Lee Chong Wei that he’s in good company. The athlete hobbled out of the Thomas Cup on Tuesday not knowing whether he will be fit to represent his country in London in August.
Lee picked up a serious ankle injury in a game against Denmark’s Peter Gade. He must now wish that the flu that had cast doubt on his participation just before the meet had hung around a little longer.
He left the court in tears, and now a nation is left on tenterhooks. Lee won the silver medal at the Beijing Games in 2008, ending his country’s podium absence of 12 years.
National singles chief coach Rashid Sidek is a worried man.
“His ankle is so swollen. He may have to get it scanned and see the depth of the injury. We have decided that he would not play in the Thomas Cup finals. We want him to have enough rest before the Olympic Games in London,” Rashid said. “He was crying and was so emotional. He must have been thinking about the Olympic Games too. For now, all he needs is some rest and time to regain his confidence.”
Rashid also said the team thought about flying Lee immediately home from the tournament held in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
In Lee’s absence, his rival and 2008 gold medalist Lin Dan thrilled the Chinese crowd with a hard-fought victory.
The two met in the final of the all-England final in March. Lin won because Lee had to retire due to a shoulder injury. It hasn’t been the best of years for the Malaysian, so he probably deserves a little luck and he certainly has a whole country willing him on to London.
Lin is also keen to see his rival in London as this may be the final chance for the leading badminton players to aim for the podium.
“With the Olympics around the corner, I hope Lee can be back in his best form in London, because it may be the last Olympics forme, for him, for Taufik Hidayat (of Indonesia) and also Peter Gade,” Lin said.