Friendly rivalry. Lee Chong Wei (left), seen here at the World Championships in China last year, welcomes his badminton arch-nemesis Lin Dan of China back to competition since August last year. - Filepic
KUALA LUMPUR: The return of China’s Lin Dan is the perfect tonic for world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei (pic).
Chong Wei said that Lin Dan’s re-emergence after almost eight months is good for the sport and that it would only motivate him to raise his game.
“I welcome his return. His presence will keep me on my toes. It will push me to train even harder. He is a strong opponent and I want to remain as his main challenger,” said Chong Wei.
Two-time Olympic Games champion Lin Dan made a successful comeback last week when he nailed the China Masters Grand Prix Gold title to jump 19 rungs from No. 104 to No. 83 in the world rankings.
And he is set to nick his second title at the ongoing Asian Badminton Championships (ABC) in Gimcheon, South Korea.
The back-to-back GP Gold and ABC are his first two tournaments since winning his fifth world title last August in Guangzhou by beating Chong Wei in the final.
Chong Wei said that Lin Dan’s return and his own decision to stay until the 2016 Olympic Games would be good for badminton fans.
“I need to stay motivated until the 2016 London Olympic Games and Lin Dan’s return has given me a good reason to do so. I look forward to duelling against him and I’m sure it will excite the fans as well,” said Chong Wei.
The fans will be more than eager to see a re-match between Chong Wei and Lin Dan at the World Championships in Copenhagen in August. Such a scenario is possible if Badminton World Federation (BWF) award a wildcard to Lin Dan for the world meet.
Based on Friday’s World Championships qualifiers’ list released by BWF, Lin Dan did not make the cut. The top three representatives from China are Chen Long, Du Pengyu and Wang Zhengming.
Malaysia will have a smaller number of qualifiers for the world meet this year.
In women’s singles, former international and world No. 78 Sannatasah Saniru failed to make the cut although she is in the top 150 standing because the quota of 48 players has been filled.
Malaysia will have three pairs – Hoon Thien How-Tan Wee Kiong, Lim Khim Wah-Goh V Shem and Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong – in the men’s doubles but Kien Keat has left the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM).