KUALA LUMPUR: Lee Chong Wei will be a man on a mission when he makes his 14th All- England appearance from March 14-18.
The 35-year-old has set his sights on winning his fifth crown at the Arena Birmingham and if he pulls it off, he will become the most successful men’s singles Malaysian shuttler in the history of the world’s oldest tournament.
World No. 2 Chong Wei will be defending the title he also won in 2010, 2012 and 2014.
Other Malaysians with four singles titles under their belts were Wong Peng Soon (1950-1952, 1955) and Eddy Choong (1953, 1954, 1956, 1957).
Besides four in the singles, the late Eddy also won three in the men’s doubles – making his total a record seven.
Second seed Chong Wei wants to create a legacy of his own.
“Many people have asked me why winning the All-England remains a priority despite having already won it four times,” said Chong Wei.
“It’s because the All-England is the oldest tournament and it’ll always hold a special place in my heart.
“It’s grand to stage it and you can feel that it’s way different than any other badminton tournaments.
“And it’s also never easy to become the All-England champion. I still have the desire to win again and hopefully I’ll go on to break the record of the most singles victories next month,” added the three-time Olympic silver medallist.
Besides the four titles, Chong Wei’s impressive record at the All-England includes three runner-up finishes in 2009, 2012 and 2013. He was also a semi-finalist on three occasions (2005, 2006 and 2008) and reached the last eight in 2007.
The only blemishes were his two first-round defeats – in his debut in 2003 and 2016.
It’s not known if world No. 1 and world champion Viktor Axelsen of Denmark – the man Chong Wei has yet to beat in the last three encounters – will recover in time from his ankle surgery to play, but the three-time Olympic silver medallist still faces a daunting task in his road to the final.
Those in his half are his nemesis and six-time champion Lin Dan of China, third seed K. Srikanth of India, Denmark’s Jan O Jorgensen and Chou Tien-chen of Taiwan.
But Chong Wei is ready to take down anyone in his path.
“I don’t care who I’ll be facing. I can beat anyone if I play my very best,” he vowed.