Despite what the critics say, Datuk Lee Chong Wei deserves to be called the “Greatest of all time” – ‘GOAT’ – after his heroics in capturing a 12th Malaysia Open title against Japan’s Kento Momota at the Celcom Axiata Malaysia Open 2018 (CAMO2018) final.
Facing an opponent 12 years his junior, Chong Wei overcame a stiff test in the second set before prevailing 21-17 23-21 in 70 minutes.
The 35-year-old did not drop a single set throughout this edition to continue his dominance in Malaysia’s premier badminton tournament since 2004, only being denied three times in 15 years – to Peter Gade Christensen (2007), Chen Long (2015) and Lin Dan (2017).
It will not be an easy feat to reach his record of 12 titles, especially with him expressing his determination to continue at the highest level for at least two more years and also to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Having this sort of hunger and passion is a massive accomplishment in itself, knowing that players from his generation such as Peter Gade Christensen (Denmark) and Taufik Hidayat (Indonesia) have already retired.
It is hard to imagine the sport’s fate without Chong Wei.
Badminton Association Malaysia (BAM) president Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria had said the former World No 1 was the perfect icon for other players to emulate if they wanted to succeed.
Post CAMO2018, praises should also go to national women’s singles player Goh Jin Wei, who recorded her best performance in her career so far by advancing to the second round before bowing out to World No.1 Tai Tzu Ying of Taiwan.
After her loss, Jin Wei acknowledged that she was unable to compete with Tzu Ying’s fast-paced movement and superior shot power. However, she is determined to work harder and fulfil her potential of becoming a world-class name.
Likewise in the men’s doubles, positives can be taken from Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi’s upset win over second-seeds Mathias Boe-Carsten Mogensen of Denmark in the first round, as well as Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik’s brave performance before falling to World No. 1 pair Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo-Marcus Fernaldi Gideon from Indonesia in the second round.
“Our investment in young players is paying dividends.
“Players like Jin Wei, Yew Sin-Ee Yi and Aaron-Wooi Yik have shown tremendous progress through good performances which we hope will continue in future tournaments,” said Norza.
However, plenty of work has to be done to assist men’s doubles pair Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong back to their peak form when they won the 2016 Olympic silver.
The duo crashed in the CAMO2018 second round to eventual winners Takeshi Kamura-Keigo Sonoda.
In the mixed doubles category, it was heartbreak all around for our national pairs as Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying, Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai Jemie and Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing failed to make it past the first round.
There were not much pressure placed on the women’s doubles pairs due to some significant injuries although the scratch pairing of Vivian Hoo-Soong Fie Cho did make it to the second round before succumbing to Japan’s Misaki Matsutomo-Ayaka Takahashi who went on to win the final.