LEGACY: Will Chong Wei’s son rise to the summit of the sport?
GENETICISTS and sports fans alike are excited. The king of badminton has married the queen of badminton and now they have a son.
Will Kingston Lee, the son of Datuk Lee Chong Wei and Datin Wong Mew Choo, who was born on April 12, grow up to rule the court? Will Lee Junior be a chip off the old block with badminton written all over his DNA, so to speak?
Kingston’s lineage is awesome. While his father is the world ranked No. 1 player and twice Olympic silver medallist, his mother’s track record is also remarkable.
Mew Choo was Malaysia’s most successful female player in recent years, earning a World No. 7 ranking, and winning many international titles, including the 2003 Sea Games gold. She had also beaten some of China’s top players, a feat no other Malaysian female players could match.
If it is all in the genes, as most people would like to think so, then Kingston has what it takes to be a future champion. Of course, much will depend on how Chong Wei brings up his son.
As the saying goes, the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world, and so we hope Chong Wei will raise his boy to rock the badminton world.
Chong Wei has said he will not compel Kingston to be a professional badminton player, but if his son loves the game, daddy will be more than happy to be his personal coach.
Having gone through long hard years of training with a regimented life himself, Chong Wei would be the first one to tell you that champions are made, not born. Truly, a great athlete must have the heart for hard work and the unwavering commitment to reaching lofty standards.
Muhammad Ali, the legendary boxer who is called "The Greatest" in the sports world, says: "Champions aren’t made in the gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them — a desire, a dream, a vision."
Let me stretch your imagination. The script has Chong Wei’s son battling Lin Dan’s son in say, 20 years’ time. Well, you’ll never know… like the sport fans say, the ball is round, anything can happen.
Lin Dan married Xie Xingfang, a two-time Olympic champion, last September. Mrs Lin is reported to be pregnant, and let’s hope it is a son to continue the great rivalry of the fathers.
The pages of badminton history are filled with gripping stories of Chong Wei’s epic battles with China’s Lin Dan, hailed as the greatest player of all time, from the World Championship finals to the Olympic finals.
You can say that Chong Wei, for all his fame and successes, was born at the wrong time. Any other era without Lin Dan, the Malaysian would have been an Olympic gold medallist and World champion.
By the way, sports schools in Malaysia, whose goal is to produce top athletes for the country, can also serve as "match-making" centres. Interestingly, Chong Wei was courting Mew Choo when they were both students of the Bukit Jalil Sports School. And as it is, a few athletes of the sports schools have been dating each other.
Talking about sports and marriage, K.H. Ong, the father of national squash champion Ong Beng Hee, gave his son (when he was aged 16), a piece of rather unusual advice — stay away from women or else it would weaken him.
I asked K.H. Ong to explain his seemingly misogynistic advice. He said it was based on a Chinese proverb that "the breast of a woman is the tomb of a warrior". Figuratively, it means a soldier would not be able to focus on fighting a war if he had a lover at home, and he would fear dying on the battlefield.
K.H. Ong, who was once the national No. 3 ranked squash player, had wanted his son to focus only on training without other distractions as he travelled around the world as a professional to compete in tournaments.
Well, Beng Hee did listen to his father, as he went on to become a world junior champion, and at senior level, was ranked world No. 7, apart from winning two Asian Games gold medals.
It was only last year that Beng Hee, at the age of 32, married Winnie Lai. The media referred to Winnie as his "long-time sweetheart". Yes, Winnie had to wait because Beng Hee took his father’s advice seriously.
Datuk Nicol David, who is the world’s greatest women’s squash player, also has good sport genes in her as her father, Desmond David, was the goalkeeper of the Penang team that won the 1974 Malaysia Cup. An engineer by profession, Desmond, by grand design, has turned Nicol, and her two sisters, Lianne and Cheryl, into champions.
Evidently, it is all in the genes as there are many more examples in Malaysian sports, from state to national level.
Last December, Datuk Misbun Sidek’s son, Misbun Ramdan Misbun, became the national champion, making his father, a six-time national champion, a proud man.
For national bowling coach Holloway Cheah, the winner of an Asian Games gold in 1978, it is a case of what goes around comes around as his daughter, Esther Cheah, conquered the world.
Studies have shown that good sport genes are a plus for athletes to win at the Olympic Games, apart from dedication and environmental factors. No one, not even a sport genius can minus the hard work.