KUALA LUMPUR: China’s Bao Chunlai may turn out to be an early spoiler for Malaysia’s world No. 1 men’s singles shuttler Lee Chong Wei in the All-England, which will be held in Birmingham from March 3-8.
Chunlai, who has dropped out of the top 10 rankings in the world, will be unseeded and could be pitted against any of the top players in the opening round when the draw is released on Feb 17.
The All-England is the first tournament for the lanky Chunlai since his semi-final finish in the China Super Series in September.
China did not send their players to any international tournaments for the last three months in a bid to give more emphasis on polishing up their game at home.
Having failed to make the final at the All-England the last six times, Chunlai will surely be motivated to give it his all this time around — especially since his team-mates Lin Dan and Chen Jin had tasted victory before.
Lin Dan won the All-England in 2004, 2006 and 2007 while Chen Jin, who is junior to Chunlai, clinched the title last year.
Chong Wei said it would be interesting to find out who, among the top players, would have to play Chunlai in the early rounds of the All-England.
“He is now ranked 12th in the world and this means he will not be seeded. But it does not give a true picture of his abilities,” said Chong Wei.
“It will be not easy for anyone to play against him. Besides, he will fresh after the three-month break from competition.”
Chong Wei and his team-mates will get a glimpse of what Chunlai is capable off when the Chinese player goes out to justify his number one seeding in the German Open, which will be held in Mulheim from Feb 24-March 1.
Chunlai is the only senior men’s singles player from China to feature in the German Open.
As for his own preparation for the All-England, Chong Wei said that he was on the right track.
“The emphasis has been on my fitness. The training has been quite demanding but with about three more weeks to go, I am shaping up well,” said Chong Wei.
Yesterday, Chong Wei was honoured by the International Olympic Committee, who presented him with a lapel pin for winning the silver medal at the Beijing Olympic Games, during the Fourth Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM)-Sports Goodwill Ambassadors Annual Get-Together.
IOC require that every Olympic Games medallist in a country be given a lapel pin during a function represented by top official representatives from every sports agencies.
After receiving the pin, Chong Wei handed over a portrait of him with the silver medal to the OCM to be placed at the Sports Museum.
“It is great to be recognised for my Olympic achievement. Hopefully, I will get another one for winning the gold medal at the next Olympic Games (2012 in London),” said Chong Wei.