“LEE Chong Wei, I love you.
“Please convey this message to him,” said Algeria’s Adel Hamek, who is making his debut in the Thomas Cup Finals.
“He’s my idol. He’s amazing, his style of play is awesome, you can watch him all day long.”
Hamek’s excitement is understandable. Algeria is the first Arab nation to play in the Thomas Cup Finals.
They made the cut by virtue of being the African champions in February this year.
And yesterday, he was just so excited to train in the same hall as Chong Wei at the Hippocampus in Bangkok.
Algeria are also in Group D with Malaysia and defending champions Denmark.
French-born Hamek, who will play singles and doubles, will not get a chance to take on Chong Wei because the Malaysian is unlikely to be fielded against the lower-ranked player tomorrow.
“I first picked up the sport 10 years ago. I was studying and I took up badminton as a pastime but I fell in love with it,” said the 25-year-old.
Hamek said he juggled badminton and a bartender job but it was tough and he had to give up the job.
“It’s worth it. Because of badminton, I get to travel to different countries, see different cultures and people.”
Badminton is gaining momentum in Algeria but Hamek is hoping for more support.
“We have a national centre in our country. We have eight courts there.
“But the goverment does not fund us,” he said.
“Our equipment is all sponsored. We don’t get paid. We’re here on our own expenses. There are six of us ... we’re just happy to be part of this Finals,” he added.