Sunday August 5, 2012
The ultimate smackdown
On the Beat
By Wong Chun Wai
Malaysians are rooting for our badminton hero with the battlecry — Datuk Lee Chong Wei (DLCW), make your initials stand for ‘Don’t Let China Win!’
IT’S going to be an uneasy day for most of us today. I am sure most of us have been having butterflies in our stomachs since this morning.
We can’t wait for the showdown between our badminton hero Datuk Lee Chong Wei and his Chinese archrival Lin Dan in London. It’s the ultimate smackdown.
There are high expectations for Chong Wei as this will be his last chance to win that elusive Olympics gold medal. But Malaysians have never given up on him and have always believed in him.
Chong Wei and Lin Dan are both Hokkien speakers. Chong Wei was born in George Town and moved to Bukit Mertajam. Lin Dan was born in Fujian province.
Chong Wei is 30 years old and Lin Dan is just one year his junior. Both have already reached the climax of their badminton careers.
As a child, Chong Wei preferred to play badminton but his mother did not like her son to spend the day under the scorching sun, according to reports.
As for Lin Dan, his parents reportedly wanted him to play the piano but he preferred to play badminton.
Comparing their styles, our Malaysian hero is the cool type while Lin Dan is an aggressive character with his reputed killer instinct on court. In 2008, it was reported that Lin Dan hit Ji Xinpeng, the men’s singles coach, in front of his team mates and reporters ahead of the Thomas Cup preparations. He was reportedly unhappy with Ji’s choice of the line-up.
It has also been reported that during the 2008 Korea Open final, he exchanged harsh words with South Korea’s Chinese coach Li Mao after a disputed line call, “threatening him and raising his racquet. Then after losing, Lin Dan scuffled with winner Lee Hyun-il.”
Even his marriage to Xie Xingfang, a two-time world badminton champion and Olympic silver medallist, was kept secret. When the media asked him for confirmation, he reacted angrily, saying it was a private matter.
Lin Dan, who now sports a tan and tattoos, has been branded by the British press as the “rock star of badminton”. His right arm bears a tattoo of his wife’s nickname along with the Chinese words “until the end of time”. His left forearm is inked with five stars that, he has said, each represents the major titles he has won in his badminton career so far. To date, however, he has not explained the significance of the cross tattoo on his left arm.
Many Malaysians still cannot forget – or forgive – his antics after he defeated Chong Wei in the All England championship last year where he ripped off his shirt and let off a yell.
Worse, he reportedly said he wanted to finish the game against Chong Wei early because he “wanted to go shopping”. No wonder the press has labelled him the “bad boy” of badminton.
Without doubt, on paper Lin Dan seems to have the edge over Chong Wei. But the Malaysian is in top form too. He finished off Chen Long, who is said to be the successor to Lin Dan, convincingly in straight sets during the semi-final match and showed how his experience gave him the upper hand.
Unlike the Beijing Olympics, where Chong Wei lost to Lin Dan, the latter would not be able to enjoy the advantage of a home crowd support in London.
But no matter what the outcome, Malaysians will cheer Chong Wei, who has already secured the first Olympics medal for the country.
This time, more than ever, we believe that this could be it. We trust that he will wage the fight of his life both for himself and for Malaysia.
As the tweets are already saying, Datuk Lee Chong Wei, make your initials stand for “Don’t Let China Win!”