PUTRAJAYA: Malaysian badminton legend Lee Chong Wei believes former rival Kento Momota is strong enough to overcome the traumatic episode of being involved in a fatal road accident – and make a strong comeback before the Olympics.
All that matters now for the 25-year-old Japanese ace, according to Chong Wei, is for him to recover fully before thinking about returning to the court.
Chong Wei should know what he is talking about. In 2012, he injured his ankle during the Thomas Cup first singles match against Denmark’s Peter-Gade Christensen and had to be wheeled out of the arena into an ambulance. He suffered the injury just four minutes into that match – and three months before the London Olympics.
He still managed to come back and with intensive training, fought his way into the Olympics final where he lost to his Chinese nemesis Lin Dan.
“I was worried that I would not be able to play at my best in the Olympics. But I still trained, even taking painkillers at that time. Even in the matches in London, there was pain but I fought through it.
“I know Momota is also made of the same stuff and he will put this incident behind him. He should be all right for the Olympics.”
Chong Wei was among the concerned parties who rushed to visit Momota, who is warded at the Putrajaya Hospital, upon learning about the accident that claimed the van driver’s life.
“What happened this (yesterday) morning is tragic, no one wants this, ” said Chong Wei.
“It’s not just us Malaysians who are concerned but fans around the world too. I spoke to Momota, he’s all fine.
“I also had a chat with (Japan head coach) Park Joo-bong and he said they are trying to get back to Japan as soon as possible once they get the clearance. He mentioned that Momota would rest for at least two weeks before getting back on court.
“We all want to see him back on court but for now let’s wish him a speedy recovery.”
Besides Chong Wei, the others who visited Momota included the wife of Prime Minister Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman and his deputy Steven Sim, Health Minister Dr. Dzulkefly Ahmad and Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) president Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria.