HIGH HOPES: Coach believes World No 2 has a chance despite injury woe
CHINA trio Lin Dan, Chen Long and Chen Jin will be oozing confidence while some of the darkhorses will be hoping to take advantage of Lee Chong Wei’s injury when the Olympics gets underway on July 27.
Nonetheless, national singles chief coach Rashid Sidek believes Chong Wei’s chances of clinching a medal remain bright.
Rashid, in a telephone interview from Bath, said Chong Wei’s current condition may make it tough for him to secure gold but he can return with a medal as long as he doesn’t give up.
Chong Wei, who will be the top seed, needs to beat two of China’s three shuttlersin order to win gold but there are other big names who could spoil his adventure.
Indonesia’s former Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat, Boonsak Ponsana of Thailand, another Indonesian Simon Santoso and South Korean dangerman Shon Wan Ho will all be looking to stop Chong Wei whose confidence has been shaken following the injury to his right ankle sustained in the Thomas Cup Finals in May.
While Rashid said Chong Wei must take the underdogs seriously, he believes the World No 2 will prevail and eventually secure a place in the semi-finals.
Rashid also looked to his own experience in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics where he was not given a chance to win a medal but upset Indonesians Joko Suprianto in the last eight and Heryanto Arbi, the world champion at that time, to secure the bronze medal.
"Chong Wei has been progressing well and the training in Bath has been good and he is totally focused on his preparations. In his current condition, his chances of a medal remain high," said Rashid yesterday.
"The injury has taken precious time but he has been working hard to overcome the setback.
"It could be tough for him to go for gold but he must not give up at any stage. As long as he remains positive and believes he can win a medal, he can keep on fighting.
"In 1996 Joko and Heryanto had been beating me regularly but I was prepared.
"I didn’t give up after losing to Dong Jiong (of China) in the semi-finals because I wanted a medal badly and bounced back to beat Heryanto in the playoff.
"Chong Wei’s situation is a little difficult because of the injury but you can expect something special in the Olympics if the player is willing to battle all the way.
"There are also players like Taufik, Boonsak, Simon and Wan Ho who will be trying to exploit his weaknesses but Chong Wei has the experience to overcome them."
The draw will be conducted on Monday.