PETALING JAYA: It has been a hectic year for world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei but he is not out of breath just yet.
He is looking forward to enjoying a triple treat next month in three mega-bucks events lined up for him with a total of US$2.1mil in prize money at stake.
Chong Wei has the chance to emerge as the biggest winner in the history of the sport if he is successful in the defence of three titles – in the 2010 Super Series Masters Finals in Taiwan (Jan 5-9) and in the new season’s Malaysian Open (Jan 18-23) and Korean Open (Jan 25-30).
The Masters Finals offers a total purse of US$500,000 while the Malaysian Open has US$400,000 in prize money.
The Korean Open is the richest tournament on the calendar next year, offering US$1.2mil in prize money.
If Chong Wei wins all three, he will pocket a total of US$160,000. The singles champion gets US$40,000 in the Masters Finals, US$30,000 in the Malaysian Open and US$90,000 in the Korean Open.
Chong Wei, who won the season-closing Super Series Open tournament in Hong Kong on Sunday, said that he would compete in all three tournaments even though they would be taxing on him.
“It will not be right to skip the Masters Finals. After all, I have qualified as the top seed. And I have to play in the home tournament and no one wants to miss the lucrative Korean Open,” he said.
“It’s going to be a tough opening month for every player but it could be a very rewarding one.”
Chong Wei defeated Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia to retain the Hong Kong Open crown and wrap up his international campaign this year with eight Open titles. He also won the individual and team gold medals at the New Delhi Commonwealth Games.
It was his career season’s best after having won a total of seven Open titles last year.
Chong Wei said that he hoped to maintain his good run next season.
“My hunger to win titles has not diminished. I want to maintain and win as many titles as possible. But two important tournaments for me are the All-England and the world championships,” he said.
“These two tournaments will be held in England where the next Olympics will also be held.
“I intend to stay on top of my game and hope to achieve my goal of winning an Olympic gold medal for Malaysia in London in 2012.”
The 28-year-old Chong Wei said that it had become more challenging for him every year to maintain his game at a high level.
“It’s never easy to beat the players from China. They not only have one strong player but a few,” he said, referring to China’s current top four players – Lin Dan, Bao Chunlai, Chen Jin and Chen Long.
“The pressure becomes heavier and the expectations get higher. I have to manage all these and stay focused on winning the big ones.
“I am still all fired up to soldier on in my mission to keep the Malaysian flag flying high in the men’s singles event.”
Currently, Chong Wei is the sole Malaysian challenger for honours in the men’s singles and he hopes to see new faces emerging when he competes in the Perak Open, beginning on Thursday in Ipoh.
“I have not lost to any player in Malaysia for nine years. I hope that some youngsters will show that they can be depended on in the future with good showings in the Perak Open,” he said.