PETALING JAYA: Two-time national men’s singles champion Lee Chong Wei will miss, for the first time, a family reunion in Penang during the Chinese New Year.
The 22-year-old Chong Wei left for Bangkok yesterday for the Thailand Open and he will take on home shuttler Adisak Wiriyapadungpong in the first round at the National Stadium today.
And he is all fired up to give his family something to cheer with a good showing in his first international tournament of the year.
The Malaysian Open runner-up, who is seeded fifth in the two-star tournament, stands a good chance to win his first Open title.
Yesterday, Chong Wei recalled the good times he spent with his family during the Chinese New Year.
“I have never missed celebrating the new year with the family before. Our grandmother’s birthday falls on the first day of the Chinese New Year. Over meals, badminton is often the hot topic,” said Chong Wei.
“But I will be in Bangkok this time and my family understands my priorities now.
“They know that it is an important year for me and they have wished me well. I will give my best in the tournament.”
Chong Wei added that there won’t be any monkey business in his pursuit of excellence in the game this year.
He remembers an incident last year, which almost landed him in troubles.
“I am a little playful by nature. I was not serious when training under Misbun (Sidek) last year. Once I threw my racquet when I could not follow a particular drill. Misbun was annoyed and did not want to see me for a week,” he said.
“I had to train aimlessly for a week. It taught me a lesson and I apologised to him. I can have fun off court.
“But I had learnt to be serious on court. Just two months later, I made it to the final of the Malaysian Open (September).
“My aim this year is to qualify for the Athens Olympics. I have to get good results to gain ranking points and I hope to get off to a good start in Bangkok,” added Chong Wei, who is currently the third highest ranked Malaysian at No 19 in the world after Wong Choong Hann (fifth) and Mohd Roslin Hashim (17th).
Chong Wei has a relatively easy path to the semi-finals where he is expected to meet top seed Ng Wei of Hong Kong.
“I played against him three times last year.
“I lost to him at the All-England (February) and the Korean Open (April) but I turned the tables on him in the Danish Open (October),” he said.