PETALING JAYA: Resignation of his coach. Titles and big bucks. And a painful revelation.
Indeed, the month of January has been an extraordinary roller coaster journey for Lee Chong Wei.
The year started quite awkwardly for world No. 1 when his coach, Misbun Sidek, dropped a bombshell by sending in a resignation letter to the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) via email on Dec 31.
But Chong Wei stayed focused and positive and went on to win the 2010 Super Series Masters title in Taipei, lifted the Malaysia Open for a seventh time and finished as the runner-up in the world’s richest tournament, the US$1.2mil South Korea Open.
And for his perseverance and strong show of will, Chong Wei reaped a total of RM430,600 in prize money from the three tournaments and in bonuses from the BAM.
It was a big bonanza for the hard working Chong Wei in a single month. He would have banked in more than RM500,000 if he had claimed the US$90,000 (RM275,000) top prize for the South Korea Open title. But he again fell short to beat China’s Lin Dan in the final.
Although Lin Dan was not in the best of condition to probably not showcase his full strength, he still managed to score a 21-19, 14-21, 21-16 win in more than an hour battle.
It may underline the fact that when it comes to high stakes, Chong Wei is still behind Lin Dan even though he has managed to narrow the gap in standard.
Some changes will take place to help Chong Wei overcome the psychological barrier against Lin Dan after the Chinese New Year.
For a start, Misbun is expected to make a return to the BAM fold next week to help Chong Wei win more titles and raise his confidence for the challenge in the 2012 London Olympics.
But the big question remains whether Chong Wei can come out of the shadows of the most celebrated player in a decade?
Will he continue to play second fiddle to Lin Dan? Will he be able to win titles when Lin Dan is at his best?
The BAM high performance director, Datuk James Selvaraj, hopes that Chong Wei will succeed.
“Misbun has informed us that he will get in touch with us after the Chinese New Year. We are looking forward to working together with him towards preparing Chong Wei for the Olympics next year,” he said.
“Our plan is to get Misbun to give full attention to Chong Wei alone while the other singles players may be put under Rashid’s care. Misbun will come back to us with a special programme towards the Olympics.
“It is not easy on Chong Wei to lose to Lin Dan again and again. It puts him at a disadvantage, psychologically.
“Chong Wei wants it so much to get the better of Lin Dan and we will help him to achieve that goal. This Chinese player is standing in his way to Olympic glory. We are all aware of it and we will work towards breaking that barrier.”