SEPANG: World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei showed his mental strength by staying focused on his mission at the recently-concluded All-England despite learning about the missing Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight MH370.
Chong Wei, who expressed sadness over the missing plane, said on Tuesday: “I was shocked when I heard about it after my semi-final match but I had to stay focused on the final.
“I know the chief steward on that flight, Andrew Nari. I had met and talked to him before, so it did affect me (in the All-England final against China’s Chen Long).
“I pray for the safety of flight MH370 and all the 239 people on board.”
Chong Wei won his third All-England title after defeating China’s Chen Long 21-13, 21-18 in the final at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham on Sunday.
The Malaysian also said that he is ready to tweak his game in order to extend his playing career – possibly until the 2016 Rio Olympics, even.
“I usually say that age is a factor but willpower, motivation as well as being mentally strong are important as well. Maybe some changes can be made to my game so that I can also compete in fewer tournaments ... focusing on the bigger ones,” Chong Wei said on arrival at the KL International Airport (KLIA) on Tuesday.
“I’m very happy with my performance at the All-England.
“Before leaving, my condition wasn’t too good – what with the ankle injury and all, but I gave it my best.
“My friends and many of our Malaysian students over there came to the stadium to lend me their support ... I’m really happy and thankful.
“At times, it felt like I was playing in Malaysia!” he added in jest.
“For this year, my focus will be on the team events. There will be several team tournaments like the Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and also the Thomas Cup. I hope we can be more focused and work together to perform better.”
“I’m not looking as far as the Rio Olympics in 2016 just yet as it’s still two years away. Instead, I will focus on this year. If I’m able to stay injury-free, I hope to make it to Rio.”
Chong Wei, who admitted that there is too much dependence on him in the national squad, hoped that everyone would work hard together in the three team events this year.
He even reckons that one of the shuttlers in the national team would, one day, rise to take over the mantle from him.
“However, just like in other countries, people can’t expect to see a second Lin Dan, a second Taufik Hidayat or even a second Peter Gade Christensen,” he explained.