BIRMINGHAM: Lee Chong Wei’s millions of supporters will be hoping that his bid to regain the All-England Open title here this week is not his last attempt at the world’s oldest badminton tournament, which begins again at Britain’s National Indoor Arena here today.
The world number one from Malaysia is top-seeded, favoured to avenge his loss to Chen Long in last year’s final, and employing his light-footed game at the age of 31 almost as nimbly as ever.
However, Lee originally planned to retire after the 2012 Olympics and has recently been suggesting that he may do so soon, perhaps after the Asian Games at Incheon in September.
Even though he will be highly motivated to win the All-England for a third time - the prime minister of Malaysia congratulated him by cell-phone within minutes his last two triumphs - his mindset has new concerns.
These include a need to be with his wife and baby, the constant pressure of being the main hope of an aspiring nation, and an occasional tendency to hyper-tension.
Lee prolonged his career only because he came so agonisingly close — just a couple of points — to the Olympic gold medal which would have been the first for any Malaysian in any sport.
He felt a responsibility to see if another attempt was possible, but now doubts that he can.
Men.-1, Lee Chong Wei (Malaysia); 2, Chen Long (China); 3, Tommy Sugiarto (Indonesia); 4, Jan Jorgensen (Denmark); 5, Kenichi Tago (Japan); 6, Boonsak Ponsana (Thailand); 7, Du Pengyu (China); 8, Tien Minh Nguyen (Vietnam).
Women.-1, Li Xuerui (China); 2, Wang Yihan (China); 3, Ratchanok Intanon (Thailand); 4, Wang Shixian (China); 5, Sung Ji-hyun (Korea); 6,Bae Yeon Ju (Korea); 7, Saina Nehwal (India); 8, Tai Tzu Ying (Taipei).AFP