MALAYSIA’S Lee Chong Wei, one of the few genuine threats to China’s ambitions in the men’s badminton, is still scrambling to be fit for his first-round match at the London Games after suffering a serious ankle injury.
“I’m not 100% recovered. I feel I’m training better and now about 90% recovered,” the former world No. 1 said at the Wembley Arena. “I know there is a lot of pressure but now I feel less pressure because of my injury.
“But this is my third Olympics and my final Olympics so gold is very important to me and my career.”
Malaysia have won all of their Olympic medals in badminton and have pinned their hopes on the team winning the country’s first gold medal at London.
Chong Wei, top seed here, raised hopes of breaking Malaysia’s drought by reaching the final in Beijing, but was obliterated by Chinese Lin Dan and had to settle for silver.
Chong Wei remains Malaysia’s greatest hope of gold but suffered a major setback in his preparations when he was sidelined for weeks after hurting his ankle in a Thomas Cup match in May.
Lin Dan and a clutch of other dominant Chinese, including world No. 3 Chen Long and No. 4 Chen Jin, are likely to stand in the way of Chong Wei’s title hopes.
Although topping badminton’s rankings for much of his career, the 29-year-old Chong Wei has never clinched an Olympic, world or Asian Games title, a gap on his resume he has long rued.
“I believe he can (win gold),” his team manager Ng Chin Chai said. “His desire must be very strong. If he makes it to the semi-finals his chances are strong.”
Chong Wei faces Finland’s Ville Lang in his first-round match on Monday before a potential round of 16 clash with Indonesia’s world No. 6 Simon Santoso.
The Olympic badminton tournament starts on Saturday at Wembley Arena and ends on Aug 5.