KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s top squash woman player Nicol David has accomplished it. Now, men’s singles shuttler Lee Chong Wei has been challenged to do the same.
Yesterday, national singles coach Misbun Sidek wants Chong Wei to maintain his ranking as the world No. 1 for at least one year.
Chong Wei has been holding on to the position since winning a silver medal at the Beijing Olympic Games in August. However, he is expected to be strongly challenged for the top spot this year.
Misbun said it would be another achievement for Chong Wei if he could maintain the spot for a year.
“No badminton player has ever done it before. Previously, (Mohd) Roslin (Hashim) and Rashid (Sidek) attained the No. 1 status but they only held it for a short while,” said Misbun.
“It will not be easy for Chong Wei to maintain it, not with China boasting of several good singles players — especially Lin Dan, Chen Jin and Bao Chunlai.
“The China players will resume playing in international tournaments, starting with the All-England, after a three-month break. Lin Dan will probably be Chong Wei’s closest rival to regain the top spot.
“The real challenge will surely begin for Chong Wei now.”
Misbun, however, had only praises for the continued commitment shown by Chong Wei in training.
“He came back after the Chinese New Year with renewed zeal. He was so full of energy even after attending a three-day camp in Kuching. Everything is positive about Chong Wei,” said Misbun.
“I hope that other players will not be blind to all that they see in Chong Wei. It will be good if more can be like him and try to narrow the gap in their standard,” added Misbun, who took a day’s break yesterday to attend Roslin’s wedding in Kota Baru.
Besides Chong Wei, the other singles players gearing up for the All-England are Wong Choong Hann, Sairul Amar Ayob, Lee Tsuen Seng, Kuan Beng Hong and Chong Wei Feng.
Back-up shuttler Liew Daren is on the reserve list and will only get to play if at least seven players withdraw from the competition.