SHAH ALAM: World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei readily concedes that Malaysia’s Thomas Cup squad are not the strongest but believes that the one-week training camp in Dongguan, China, from May 13-18 will make a difference.
The Thomas Cup will be held in Wuhan, China, from May 20-27 and the BA of Malaysia (BAM) have set a realistic semi-final target.
It will not be easy, however, as Malaysia are drawn in Group C with European powerhouse Denmark and South Africa. And the draw in the quarter-finals may yet pit them against favourites China, or strong contenders Indonesia, South Korea and Japan.
The 29-year-old Chong Wei, confidence renewed after winning the Malaysian Open GP Gold in Johor Baru last Sunday, is in the right frame of mind for the challenge ahead.
“Our team could be better but we have qualified for the Finals and must give it our best,” said Chong Wei.
“What’s most important is team spirit, which we are lacking a little at the moment because the singles players and the doubles players have different training schedules.
“That is why the training camp in Dongguan will be very important because we’ll be training and spending more time together. This will surely increase team spirit.
“Besides, after winning the Malaysian Open in JB, I’m more confident about my injured shoulder and am determined to deliver the first point for the team.
“The target is to reach the semi-finals and we aim to achieve that or better,” said Chong Wei.
Besides Chong Wei, the other members of the 10-man team are Liew Daren, Mohd Hafiz Hashim and Chong Fei Weng (singles), and doubles pairs Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong, Goh V Shem-Lim Khim Wah and Hoon Thien How-Tan Wee Kiong
Wei Feng and doubles specialist Wee Kiong will be making their debut in the event while Daren and V Shem-Khim Wah tasted action during the qualifiers back in February.
Meanwhile, Chong Wei has been named brand ambassador for the CNI White Coffee Cendawan Susu Harimau and Well3 products.
The Penangite, who was in jovial mood during the signing ceremony yesterday, expressed his gratitude for the support shown by the private sector and the Malaysian public.
“I really have to thank CNI and all my other sponsors for supporting me in this crucial Olympic year. All this makes me even more determined to win the elusive first Olympic gold medal for Malaysia in London,” said Chong Wei.