Chinese youngster Chen Long hopes that it will not be too long before he lives up to his country’s expectation as a star player.
The Asian and world junior champion has in his first year as a member of he senior team experienced disappointments.
“I did not do well in 2008 as a senior player. It is not easy to try to match the players, who are older and have years of experience behind them,” said the 21-year-old.”
But the lanky Chen Long wants to follow in the footsteps of Lin Dan, Bao Chunlai and Chen Jin and he is prepared to go the extra mile to make it big.
“The journey to be a big star is not easy. It all depends on how much one can give in practice sessions. It involves a lot of hard work and I have committed myself to go through the hardship,” he said.
Chen Long added that it was his height that got him into badminton when he was eight-years-old.
“Several coaches came to my school. It was easily spotted because I was the tallest. They encouraged me to take up the sport,” said Chen Long, who stands at 1.88m.
“My mother immediately bought me a racquet, which cost 100 yuan (RM50). I treasured it for two years before it broke. By then, I was really into this sport.”
Although currently seen as China’s best junior, Chen Long chooses to be modest.
“I have been training with the senior players at the national centre this year. There are several other juniors too and there is strong competition among us. I am not the best yet,” he said.
The Asian Championships (ABC) runner-up, however, hopes that there would be a change of fortune in his badminton career this year.
“I am determined to win my first Open title. Hopefully, it will be at this Malaysian Open GP Gold,” said Chen Long.
He will take on second seed Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia in the first round today.
“Besides my seniors, there are two other players who I look up to — Taufik and Lee Chong Wei. I will get to play Taufik for the first time tomorrow and it will be a great breakthrough for me if I can beat him,” he said.