KUALA LUMPUR: Lee Chong Wei has been carrying the world No. 1 tag for the past 11 months and he does not need any reminding at home of what is expected of him in the World Championships in Hyderabad next month.
With this in mind, Chong Wei has disappeared off the public radar. He is in training for a week with the South Korea shuttlers under the charge of his former coach, Li Mao.
His decision to train outside the country has the blessings of current coach Misbun Sidek. Chong Wei left for Seoul on Monday together with back-up shuttler Chan Kwong Beng and Misbun left last night to join them.
While it may come as a surprise that Chong Wei has chosen to leave the national team’s training base at the Juara Stadium in Bukit Kiara here, it is a good idea to keep him off outside distractions at home in the run-up to the World Championships and to help lessen the mounting expectations.
Misbun said recently that the next few weeks of preparations would be crucial to Chong Wei’s hopes of mounting a succesful challenge for an elusive world crown in Hyderabad.
Misbun has been hoping that his prized charge would be able to reject invitations for outside activities that could disrupt his concentration in training.
The Penangite has been invited by many to attend their functions and Misbun prefers him to stay focused on the preparations for the championships scheduled for Aug 10-16.
Singles head coach Rashid Sidek confirmed that Chong Wei is in training in Seoul under Li Mao, who also has world championship-bound South Korean Park Sung-hwan under his charge.
“Chong Wei has his reasons to keep a distance.
“Moreover, the world championship draw is just out and everyone will be seeking his comments,” said Rashid.
“It’s good for Chong Wei to train elsewhere. He will return to play in the Mini Olympics from July 29-30 and will leave with the team for Hyderabad on Aug 8.”
Chong Wei, who has won four Open titles this year, is the top seed and he is tipped to play against his bogeyman, Lin Dan of China, in he semi-finals.
Chong Wei’s titles were secured in the Super Series tournaments in Malaysia, Switzerland and Indonesia as well as the Malaysian Open Grand Prix Gold in Johor Baru last month.