ALL ENGLAND: With other challengers around, Chong Wei can’t take things for granted
LIN Dan’s absence from the All England in Birmingham is of no concern to Lee Chong Wei as the World No 1 just wants to focus on his preparations for the March 5-10 championships.
Lin Dan, who has not played since beating Chong Wei in the London Olympics final last August, was supposed to make his return in Birmingham but withdrew on Thursday.
With Chong Wei having started the season by winning the Korea and Malaysia Open titles, he is the favourite for a third All England crown but the two-time Olympic silver medallist said he will have to tread carefully.
Despite Lin Dan’s omission, China’s young guns Chen Long, Du Pengyu and Chen Jin will be looking to deny Chong Wei and prove they are capable of carrying the challenge while there are also other potential challengers from other countries.
“I really don’t know why he is not playing. Lin Dan may not be ready but I don’t want to be distracted by that,” said Chong Wei yesterday.
“I have already won the Korea and Malaysia Opens and the other players will be aiming to beat me in the All England. I just have to prepare myself well to face them .
“I will not say it is very much easier with Lin Dan not coming as Chen Long, Pengyu and several other players are capable of mounting challenges.”
Such is Chong Wei’s desire to win the All England that he will cut short his Chinese New Year celebration.
“We have been given five days off for Chinese New Year but I will resume training after three days. I don’t want to relax too much and then struggle to regain my fitness.”
A shoulder injury saw Chong Wei conceding a walkover to Lin Dan midway through the second game in the All England final last year but if all goes well, he should secure his hat-trick, having won it in 2010 and 2011.
National singles coach Tey Seu Bock said there is a strong possibility Lin Dan will only start competing in May or June when he is fully prepared.
“Lin Dan has won everything and it is not easy to motivate oneself to do everything all over again. He was granted six months’ leave by the China BA after the Olympics and he may have just started training.
“He is the kind of player who will win titles if he decides to return and I don’t think we have seen the last of Lin Dan. He will return but will play in a few tournaments only.
“China can still name him for the World Championships (in August) although his world ranking is dropping and if he is out of the top 24, they can just enter two players to accommodate Lin Dan.”