# Chong Wei stays on course for elusive singles gold
# Beats Lin Dan for only the 12th time in 37 meetings
# True sportsmanship showed by two of the greatest badminton players
# Chong Wei and Lin Dan exchange shirts and hug each other bare chested
# Breeze for Chen Long against Viktor Axelsen in the semis
By Rizal Abdullah
They exchanged their shirts after the match which left them bare chested but it did not stop them to hug each other and exchange pleasantries. This reflected the close bond Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei and China’s Lin Dan have forged as sporting buddies and in the true spirit of sportsmanship.
The Malaysian had just defeated the defending champion 15-21, 21-11, 22-20 in a pulsating 83 minute semi-final encounter on Friday at Riocentro Pavilion 4.
Chong Wei did not buckle under pressure. Instead he was composed and mentally prepared for the showdown the badminton world had been waiting for in the Rio Olympics.
In the rubber Chong Wei showed his strong character even when Lin Dan made it 20-20 after trailing 20-16 at one stage. The rest is history.
While Chong Wei denied Lin Dan a piece of Olympic history by winning his third successive men’s singles gold after winning in Beijing Olympics (2008) and retaining it at the 2012 London Olympics, the Chinese superstar has opened the door for his Malaysian buddy to also write Olympic history and win the elusive gold.
The 33-year-old Chong Wei was at the receiving end in Beijing and in London when he lost both the finals to Lin Dan. In Beijing he was beaten 12-21, 8-21 in gold medal match.
In London it was three-set battle but the Lin Dan walked away with a 15-21, 21-10, 21-19 win in the final and became the first man to back-to-back the Olympic gold in the men’s singles.
On Friday at Riocentro, Pavilion 4 the battle was on in the semi-finals. In the stands Lin Dan and Chong Wei had their own band of supporters. The Arena was filled with cries of “Chong Wei” and “Lin Dan” throughout the match to motivate their idols.
In the end it was the Malaysian who prevailed in 83 minutes and give himself probably his last fling to win the elusive Olympic gold to add to the two silvers after the heartbreak in the Beijing and London.
Chong Wei, however, faces another “Great Wall” of China – No 2 seed and reigning world champion Chen Long in Saturday’s final.
Chong Long breezed into the final with an easy 21-14, 21-15 win over Denmark’s fourth seed Viktor Axelsen in only 29 minutes.
Lee Chong Wei (Mas) beat Lin Dan (Chn) 15-21, 21-11, 22-20
Chen Long (Chn) beat Viktor Axelsen (Den) 21-14, 21-15