KUALA LUMPUR: Shuttler Lee Chong Wei used to doze off during motivational talks or mental training programmes. He has even made fun of the speakers and trainers.
But now, the world number one Chong Wei appreciates them more than ever in his bid to maintain his stature as one of the best players on the international stage.
That is why he was happy that the National Sports Institute (NSI) have, for a start, agreed to let mental trainer Frederick Tan to accompany him for the back-to-back Opens in Denmark (Oct 21-26 in Odense) and France (Oct 28-Nov 2 in Paris).
Besides a mental trainer, the Malaysian team will also be accompanied by a physical trainer and a physiotherapist for the ninth and 10th legs of the Super Series.
And this arrangement will be made permanent for all the players under the Badminton Association of Malaysia’s (BAM) programme geared towards the 2012 London Olympics.
There had been a support team regularly for the badminton team prior to the Beijing Olympics last August but the NSI did not send one for the Japan and Macau Open tournaments last month.
In both these tournaments, Chong Wei failed to live up to his top seeding €” losing to Indonesians Sony Dwi Kuncoro and Taufik Hidayat respectively.
Chong Wei, who will get another shot to justify his world number one billing in Denmark and France, said that he had bad perception of mental trainers a few years ago.
“I have attended many motivational talks. Sometimes, I fall asleep. I found it a waste of time. This had been my mentality in the past,” he said.
“And it becomes even harder to concentrate when the language used by these trainers is not in my mother tongue.”
The 26-year-old Chong Wei said that he was learning to control his emotion better after coming under the guidance of Frederick last year.
“My coach (Misbun Sidek) brought Frederick in to help out. Not many is able to understand the plight that I go through as a top player. There have been good and bad times. It is not easy to make a comeback, especially after playing badly in a match,” he said.
“I feel good communicating in Hokkien with Frederick. I am able to share and this helps me to give better concentration and focus on my game.
“It is good that I will have this support on a full-time basis. But I know that at the end of the day, it still depends on me €” to go out there and produce good results for the country.”
Chong Wei will make a final decision next week on whether to compete in both the Danish ands French Open tournaments. If he opts out, he will then get ready for the Opens in China (Nov 18-23) and Hong Kong (Nov 25-30).