THE World Championships in Hyderabad went on smoothly despite an alleged terrorist threat and fears of the spread of the flu (H1N1) virus.
But in competition, Malaysia’s world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei, who was seen as Malaysia’s great hope to nail the elusive world championship title, did not survive a threat from within himself and bowed out tamely again to Indonesian Sony Dwi Kuncoro, this time in the quarter-finals.
Coach Misbun Sidek said that his worst fear came true when the 27-year-old Chong Wei could not handle the high expectations on him and lost focus in his eagerness to win so badly for the country.
“This has been the only concern of the coaches. He has all the skills and techniques but what goes through his mind during a match is beyond the control of anyone, except himself,” said Misbun.
The result was disappointing indeed, considering that the coaches and the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) had met all of Chong Wei’s demand to prevent him from getting distracted in the few months in the run-up to the championships.
Chong Wei went to South Korea for a 10-day stint. He also had the full assistance of sports psychologist Frederick Tan.
In fact, he even had a suite for himself in Hyderabad. All these were done in a bid to help him stay focused.
The coaches defended that Chong Wei tried his best but if only he had shown more aggression or better fight in his game. Chong Wei knew more was expected of him. He did take the responsibility of his failure and has promised to come out of the disappointment with better performances. One has to be fair to Chong Wei. It is not easy being the only player to be depended on for honours, year after year.
The back-up shuttlers are still not up to the mark and hopefully, the new coach, Hendrawan of Indonesia, can turn things around for Malaysia.
China had more than one player to fight for the honours and it was underlined yet again in an all-China final between eventual champion Lin Dan and Chen Jin.
The doubles department also failed to end the barren run for Malaysia in the championships with Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong and Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari-Mohd Zakry Abdul Latif coming narrowly close to making it an all-Malaysian final.
It was also a disappointing outing for the world No. 1 women’s pair of Chin Eei Hui-Wong Pei Tty. They failed to reach the quarter-finals of the championships for the first time in four outings. And they are still hounded by their lack of consistency.
National doubles chief coach Rexy Mainaky said: “Winning and losing are part and parcel of the game.
“What is important is to learn from the defeat and come out as stronger players.”
If only Chong Wei and his team-mates were strong enough, they could have withstood internal or external pressures to succeed and become world champions.