WORLD No. 1 Lee Chong Wei’s Olympic dream suffered a severe blow when he tore a tendon on his ankle during a Thomas Cup Group C tie against Denmark at the Wuhan Sports Gymnasium Centre yesterday.
The pain was excruciating and the shuttler wept unabashedly.
But it was the “pain” of not being able to help his Thomas Cup team-mates – and the possibility of not being at his best for the Olympics – that proved even more intolerable.
The 29-year-old is now expected to be out for three to four weeks, thus affecting his preparations for the London Games, which will be held from July 27-Aug 12.
Chong Wei, the Beijing Olympics silver medallist, is seen as the strongest rival for defending champion Lin Dan of China.
In the group tie of the Finals, Chong Wei began as the heavy favourite against veteran Peter-Gade Christensen in the first singles event.
But, just four minutes into the game, Chong Wei screamed in pain after landing awkwardly while retrieving a shot at the baseline. The Malaysian clutched his right ankle and grimaced in pain.
The medical team rushed to help, after quite some time, but it was in vain. Chong Wei later got up, limped over towards Christensen, shook hands with the Dane and called it quits.
About an hour later, Chong Wei was later taken to a hospital, accompanied by coach Tey Seu Bock.
A Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) was done and it confirmed that Chong Wei has suffered a tear on his tendon.
“The doctor said that it would take three to four weeks for the injury to heal. We are making arrangements to send Chong Wei home,” said Seu Bock.
“We will conduct another MRI back home and get a second opinion on the seriousness of his injury.”
Seu Bock, however, was glad that the injury is not as bad as the one suffered by former international Wong Choong Hann at the 2006 Thomas Cup Finals.
Choong Hann was then the team skipper when he ruptured his Achilles heel during the second singles match against Park Sung-hwan in a quarter-final tie against South Korea. The injury ruled Choong Hann out for six months.
“When I saw Chong Wei on the floor, I immediately thought about Choong Hann. I was there when Choong Hann got hurt. The first thing I checked was to see whether Chong Wei could move his toes. I was relieved when he could,” he said.
Then, Malaysia went on to beat South Korea to reach the semi-finals.
But yesterday, Chong Wei’s defeat saw Malaysia losing 2-3 to Denmark.
Seu Bock said that Chong Wei was very sad and down-hearted and kept asking why it had happened to him during his short stay at the hospital.
“He felt bad that he could not contribute a point for the team. He was also worried about the Olympic Games and wondered why it had happened so close to the Games. He is emotionally down,” he said.
“All he needs right now is some good rest and a time to recover from this setback. We still have time before the Olympic Games and we can help him to regain his confidence.”
Group A: China bt Indonesia 5-0
Group B: Japan bt Russia 5-0
Group C: Denmark bt Malaysia 3-2 (Peter-Gade Christensen bt Lee Chong Wei 1-2 rtd; Carsten Mogensen-Mathias Boe bt Tan Boon Heong-Hoon Thien How 21-17, 21-23, 21-11; Jan O Jorgensen lost to Liew Daren 15-21, 13-21; Jonas Rasmussen-Joachim Fischer Nielsen bt Koo Kien Keat-Goh V Shem 21-18, 21-15; Hans-Kristian Vittinghus bt Mohd Hafiz Hashim 21-17, 17-21, 19-21).
Group D: South Korea bt Germany 5-0.
Group A: China bt Indonesia 5-0
Group B: Taiwan bt Holland 3-2
Group C: South Korea bt Germany 5-0.
Group D: Japan bt Denmark 3-2.