PETALING JAYA: Malaysians shared nerve-wracking moments watching badminton ace Datuk Lee Chong Wei play against China’s Chen Long in a match that would have Olympians gods flush.
Fans including the country’s veteran athletes, senior politicians, parents and children as well as foreign tourists screamed almost in unison and ecstasy for every point gathered. They cringed and pain was written on their faces at every point lost.
In a cafe in Terengganu, patrons gave a standing ovation to Chong Wei as soon as the match ended with a heart-breaking loss. He went down 18-21, 18-21 to the Chinese player.
In Putrajaya, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak joined hundreds to cheer Chong Wei on as he battled endlessly against Chen Long.
The World No. 1 men’s singles shuttler in a live telecast after the match was apologetic. He said he regretted that he failed to deliver gold to the 30 million Malaysians.
“I’m really sorry to disappoint them. I tried my best, but I’ve got to accept that Chen Long played better than me.
“He was well prepared and managed to retrieve all my shots.
“I played better today than I did in the 2012 (London) Olympics and all the World Championships. It was just not my day, but I never once gave up.
“My regret is that I could only win a silver again for the third time,” he said after his 21-18, 21-18 loss to world No. 2 Chen Long.
Asked if he would play in his fifth Olympics in Tokyo in 2020, Chong Wei said: “I don’t think so. I’ll continue until next year’s World Championships and see how my condition is.
“I’ll probably stop playing to give the younger guys a chance to play in the 2020 Olympics.”
On his immediate plans, Chong Wei said he can’t wait to go back home after spending three weeks in Rio.
“Now, I just want to go back to see my kids. I miss my kids, my family,” said Chong Wei.
In Bentong, MCA president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai congratulated Chong Wei, saying: “Congratulations. We are proud of you.”
“He (Chong Wei) has given his all and put up a good fight. He must be exhausted from the strenuous game with Lin Dan just a day before,” he added.
He said most important was the spirit of sportsmanship that Chong Wei displayed at the court.
“Malaysia will fight back in the next Olympics,” Liow said.
In cities and towns as well as suburbs, people gathered as early as 6pm to get a good spot to watch the much-anticipated match whether it was in a coffee shop, a mamak stall, a nasi kandar restaurant or a field.
There were several heart-stopping moments during the game when the players strived to outdo each other with their outstanding strokes. But the fans continued to cheer on until the very last moment.
The most important message they all sent out was that Chong Wei was a hero, no matter what medal he was bringing home.
The people thanked him for the display of superb performance – just like how the other Malaysians had done them proud throughout this Olympics – in a true Malaysia Boleh fashion!
Did you find this article insightful?