THE Penang Badminton Association (PBA) want the Penang Government to reward Lee Chong Wei for his success in clinching the 2010 All-England men’s singles title.
The 28-year-old Chong Wei, who hails from Berapit, defeated up and coming Japanese youngster Kenichi Tago 21-19, 21-19 to land the prestigious title during the meet’s centenary tournament in Birmingham, England, on March 14.
For his achievement, Chong Wei received a one-off RM20,000 reward from the National Sports Council although the All-England is not part of the national incentive scheme.
Its president Dr Koay Ban Hing said the association hoped that the state government would reward Chong Wei in recognition for his winning feat in the All-England.
“Through his success, the shuttler has highlighted Malaysia, and in particular Penang, to the world.
“Although, it is not the World Championships or the Olympics, we feel that winning the All-England title, especially in the tournament’s 100th edition, is a commendable feat that needs to be recognised,” he said.
Dr Koay pointed out that Penang had set a precedent in rewarding success when ano-ther famous sporting icon from the state, Nicol David, clinched the first of her four world titles back in 2005.
She received monetary and property rewards worth more than RM300,000 from the state.
Chong Wei was conferred the Darjah Setia Pangkuan Negeri (DSPN), which carries the title Datuk, by the Penang Yang di-Pertua Negeri in 2008 for winning the Olympics silver medal in Beijing.
“It is not our place to suggest the form of reward and we will leave it to the state to decide when and how to award Chong Wei.
“However, we hope that any reward given out will come in time to boost his fighting spirit for the Thomas Cup Finals in Kuala Lumpur in May,” added the PBA president.
Chong Wei is the fifth Malaysian and third Penangite to land the All-England men’s singles title.
Four-time winner Datuk Eddy Choong (1953-54, 1956-57) and Tan Aik Huang (1966) were the first two Penangites to lift the trophy, while Wong Peng Soon (1950-52, 1955) of Johor and Kelantan-born Mohamad Hafiz Hashim (2003) were the other Malaysian winners.
PBA secretary Tony Tan Gim Hin felt that Chong Wei had a very good chance to add more major titles in 2010.
Besides the Thomas Cup, the national number one is also eyeing his maiden successes in this year’s World Championships in Paris and the Asian Games in Guangzhou.
“At present form, Chong Wei is tough to beat. After winning his first major title at the All-England, I believe he is capable of gunning for the other big titles this year,” said Tony.
“However, in order to reach greatness, he needs to be mentally prepared to beat his arch-nemesis Lin Dan (of China) on the court.
“He also has to be wary of the threat posed by the talented youngsters like Jan O. Jorgensen (Denmark), Nguyen Tien Minh (Vietnam), Chen Long (China), Tanongsak Saensomboon-suk (Thailand) and Tago, who has shown no fear in taking on more established players,” he said.
The PBA officials added that Chong Wei’s continuous success in the world stage would have a positive effect on the Penang junior badminton development programme.
“He is a role model for the young shuttlers in the state.
“They look up to Chong Wei to inspire and motivate them to train harder in order to emulate the footsteps of their idol,” said Dr Koay.