PETALING JAYA: Lee Chong Wei’s training programme will be adjusted to sustain his badminton career – at least until the World Champion-ships in August next year.
This is national coach Hendrawan’s assurance after the three-time Olympic silver medallist ended the season in disappointment. The world No. 1 failed to reach the men’s singles semi-finals at the World Superseries Finals.
Yesterday, the 34-year-old Chong Wei lost 21-14, 14-21, 19-21 to Viktor Axelsen of Denmark in his final Group B match at the Hamdan Sports Complex in Dubai. It was Chong Wei’s first loss to the 21-year-old Axelsen in 10 clashes.
Chong Wei, a four-time Superseries Finals champion, also lost to Son Wan-ho of South Korea for the first time in four years in his opening group match on Wednesday.
Said Hendrawan: “We’ve to accept Chong Wei’s loss. He was not at his best. His condition was not like before the Rio Olympics (in August) and it was easier for the younger players to beat him.
“Viktor was smart to avoid playing at the net in the second game. He kept pushing the shuttle to the back and engaged more rallies. His game plan worked wonders for him.”
Chong Wei, playing in his first tournament since his hamstring injury in October, got off to a brilliant start by taking the opening game. But Axelsen came back to force a rubber.
Axelsen had led 17-14 in the decider but a determined Chong Wei drew level at 17-17. Chong Wei’s hard work ended in vain when he served to the net at 19-20 and Axelsen jumped in joy to celebrate his win.
“We can always learn from this defeat. We have to find ways to balance between tough training, recovery and injury prevention.
“It’s not easy to be Chong Wei’s coach at this stage of his life. There is risk of injury if I push him hard in training and his form may drop if I don’t. We’ll work it out.” said Hendrawan.
“He will play at the All-England in March. That will give him enough time to rest and recuperate. The World Championships is his main target next year,” added Hendrawan.
Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong brought some cheer to the Malaysian camp by beating already-qualified Chai Biao-Hong Wei of China 16-21, 21-13, 22-20 to top Group B in the men’s doubles.
Mads Conrad-Petersen-Mads Pieler Kolding of Denmark and Japan’s Takeshi Kamura-Keigo Sonoda are the semi-finallists from Group A.
Said national doubles coach Jeremy Gan: “A new draw will be carried out so there’s a possibility for V Shem-Wee Kiong to face Chai Biao-Hong Wei again.