KUALA LUMPUR: The way Lee Chong Wei bounced back from his Denmark disappointment to clinch the French Open title is a good lesson for all aspiring youngsters – as well as those from the elite men’s doubles department.
On Sunday, Chong Wei downed Japan’s Kenichi Tago 21-16, 21-11 in Paris to win his seventh title of the year in his 11th final appearance.
Earlier in the semi-finals, Chong Wei exacted sweet revenge on China’s Chen Long, who had defeated the Malaysian twice in the finals of the Japan and Denmark Opens.
It was world No. 1 Chong Wei’s 39th career individual title since making his breakthrough in the senior scene in 2002 and his 20th Super Series title since its introduction in the Badminton World Federation (BWF) calendar in 2007.
His transformation – especially in the match against Chen Long – in just a week clearly showed that Chong Wei is made of sterner stuff.
Chong Wei deserves a pat on the back for putting some thought into his game and to change his style of play to outplay Chen Long and re-assert his status as the world’s leading shuttler.
National coach Tey Seu Bock hoped that young shuttlers would emulate Chong Wei’s attitude.
“He never gives up. I know how much the defeat to Chen Long (at the Japan and Denmark Opens) affected him. He was looking at all kinds of ways to get even. And his determination paid off,” said Seu Bock.
“I have followed Chong Wei everywhere this year and I know the pressure he faces. Despite the growing expectations and over-reliance on him, he has done well. Our juniors should never give up if they wish to excel. There will be breakthroughs in their career if they just continue to press on.”
Chong Wei’s first win in France should also serve as a motivation for the country’s top men’s doubles shuttlers Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong.
Kien Keat-Boon Heong are still struggling to find their way up after the demoralising quarter-final defeat to Ko Sung-hyun-Yoo Yeon-seong at the World Championships in Wembley in August. (Chong Wei also lost in the world meet, going down to China’s Lin Dan in the final.)
Kien Keat-Boon Heong have not won any titles in the last four tournaments – the China Masters, Japan Open, Denmark Open and French Open – over the past two months.
But they should take a leaf out of Chong Wei’s book and not give up without a fight.
The duo must also learn to accept the fact that they are not good enough right now.
Kien Keat-Boon Heong need to change their mindset and use all the brickbats being hurled at them as motivation.
It is obvious that they need to change their playing style, especially in keeping up with the fast pace set by the likes of Lee Yong-dae-Jung Jae-sung of South Korea and Cai Yun-Fu Haifeng of China, if they hope to win a medal at the London Olympic Games.
The elite shuttlers will have nearly two weeks to polish up their games before resuming their challenges in the Super Series event at the Hong Kong Open (Nov 15-20) and China Open (Nov 22-27).