KUALA LUMPUR: World No. 1 shuttler Lee Chong Wei, diver Pandedela Rinong and cyclist Azizulhasni Awang share one common trait – they were all injured before going on to give one of their best performances at the London Olympic Games.
And all three will always be indebted to the National Sports Institute (NSI) for speeding up their recovery processes.
And, yesterday, Chong Wei paid a timely tribute to the NSI staff for their tireless efforts.
Chong Wei praised the NSI’s commitment to serve the athletes on the same day that the institute launched a two-day seminar titled “Post Performance – Road to London 2012”.
The seminar is aimed at looking into their roles and finding ways to further improve their sports science services for national athletes.
Chong Wei had injured his foot during the Thomas Cup Finals in May but the proper care, guidance and overwhelming support he received throughout his rehabilitation programme saw him back on his feet at the London Olympics.
He gave China’s Lin Dan a run for his money before losing narrowly in the final.
Azizul was involved in a horrific crash in 2011 when a wooden splinter pierced through his calf. A seven-month rehabilitation period, closely monitored by the NSI team, resulted in him getting back on his feet to eventually become the first cyclist to feature in an Olympic final (finishing sixth in keirin).
Pandelela suffered a right shoulder injury just two days before the London Games but the NSI support staff provided her with the right treatment and she went on to the country’s first bronze in diving.
Chong Wei admitted that the work done by the NSI staff are mostly unseen.
“Many do not see the hard work put in by the NSI staff. I am so grateful to them for helping me recover. Sometimes, their motivational talks really inspire me too,” he said.
He was particularly thankful to physiotherapist Sandra Fiedler, physical trainers Fadhil Mohd Salleh and Roesdi Ghai and masseur Li Dazhi for “saving” him during his darkest moment.
Chong Wei said that as he grew older, his dealings with the NSI staff changed his perception about the importance of sports science in enhancing and improving athletes’ performances.
He advised the younger generation of athletes to take advantage of the benefits of sports science.
“It’s important for athletes to have good eating habits, knowledge of one’s body and what one needs to enhance performances. The facilities and experts are there ... the athletes will be the biggest losers if they do not take time to make good use of them,” he said.