KUALA LUMPUR: National singles chief coach Misbun Sidek is not concerned at all over the absence of top singles shuttler Wong Choong Hann, who left for Athens on Wednesday night for a week-long activity to carry the Olympic torch with other Malaysian sport heroes on the island of Crete.
Instead, he believes that the occasion would help fan the fire in Choong Hann, who has suffered the disappointment of an opening round defeat by former world champion Peter Rasmussen of Denmark in the Malaysian Open in Kuantan last week.
The defeat was seen as a big blow for Choong Hann in his preparation for the Olympics badminton competition, which will be played from Aug 14-21.
Initially, I was not too keen on the idea of Choong Hann going to Athens for the torch ceremonies, said Misbun.
But carrying the torch is a big honour for an athlete and I gave him the nod to go. I hope that in the one week there at the home of the Olympics would help lift his morale ahead of the competition.
The 27-year-old Choong Hann left for Athens with other Malaysian sports heroes Datuk Dr M. Jegathesan, Datuk Soh Chin Aun, Nurul Huda Abdullah and Nicol Ann David to carry the Olympic torch under the support your team programme organised by Samsung.
Despite being without any supervision for the next few days, Misbun was confident that Choong Hann would keep his fitness in check.
It will not be a complete break for Choong Hann. We have discussed about this and he will go through physical training to keep fit, said Misbun.
He is a hardworking and disciplined player. I am confident that Choong Hann's performances will not be affected despite missing one week of court training. I hope to see a rejuvenated Choong Hann when he returns.
Misbun said that prior to Choong Hann's departure, he had taken all the men's singles players to the Genting Highlands.
We returned from Kuantan on Monday (after the Malaysian Open). On Tuesday, we went to Genting. The timing was perfect as were able to reflect on the players' performances in the Malaysian Open, he said.
We talked about their weaknesses and their strength. But it was not all about work, as we had some fun time. The players went on a roller coaster ride and they also went to the karaoke. But now, its back to serious business.
The other two singles plays in the fray of the Olympics men's singles event are Malaysian Open champion Lee Chong Wei and veteran Mohd Roslin Hashim.
Roslin is back with the Nusa Mahsuri camp for training. I give full attention to Chong Wei in the morning and I spend more time with Roslin in the night session, said Misbun.
Chong Wei did well to win the Malaysian Open while Roslin took his opponent (Bao Chunlai of China) to the distance before losing (in the quarter-finals).
In Olympics badminton, Malaysia will be represented by a maximum of three players in the men's singles for the first time. The best achievement by a Malaysia singles player in the series was a bronze medal from Rashid Sidek in the 1996 Atlanta Games.
Malaysia will have two men's doubles pairs in the Athens Games Choong Tan Fook-Lee Wan Wah and Chew Choon Eng-Chan Chong Ming. They will also have a pair in the women's doubles Chin Eei Hui-Wong Pei Tty.
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