* Chong Wei begins his comeback trail in the Sudirman Cup
* Malaysia need to be beat either India or South Korea to make the quarter-finals
* The badminton world eagerly awaits Chong Wei’s ‘return’
Former World No 1 and Malaysia’s top men’s shuttler Datuk Lee Chong Wei left with the national team on Wednesday for the Sudirman Cup mixed team championships to be held in Dongguan in China from May 10-17 – ready to “rebuild” his playing career after serving a eight-month suspension by the Badminton World Federation (BWF) for failing a dope test.
And the 32-year-old Penangite, who without doubt is Malaysia’s hottest badminton property, is itching to get into competitive action and believes the mixed team event is the “perfect launching pad” to embark his comeback trail.
“This is not an individual championship, this is a mixed team event and I will give my best to get a point for the team. Team spirit will play a big part and I believe the national team’s team spirit is second to none,” said Chong Wei before leaving with the team.
Head coach Morten Frost, who is also the Badminton of Malaysia (BAM) technical director rightly said: “This time we are throwing in the youngsters into the fray in a major competition and Chong Wei’s presence will boost their confidence.”
Malaysia are drawn in Group D and have South Korea and India for company. The Malaysians go into the fray on Sunday with a match against the strong Koreans. This will be followed by a match against India, who have made inroads in the world of badminton. Malaysia need to beat either the Koreans or the Indians to advance to the quarter-finals.
“The Koreans will be real tough which means we have to beat India to make the quarter-finals. India are no easy meat either but the quarter-finals is our target and we are focused on our quarter-final target.”
Chong Wei’s eight-month absence from the badminton scene was severely felt around the world and there is much focus on his first competitive competition after he was found guilty of negligence of consuming dexamethasone via Cordyceps capsules as health supplement.
But all that is a thing of the past for Chong Wei who is also in the team to next month’s SEA Games in Singapore. The 28th biennial games will be held in Singapore from June 5-16 and Chong is scheduled to play in the team event only as he is also down to compete in the US Open scheduled for June 16-21.
With his world ranking dropping to No 45 in the latest Badminton World Federation (BWF) ranking list, BAM have listed Chong Wei to compete in as many international meets as the Olympic qualifying points got underway on May 1.
Putting all that aside the badminton world is eagerly waiting for Chong Wei’s return to light up the badminton courts and renew his rivalry with his nemesis like Lin Dan, Chen Long and Jan O Jorgensen, K. Srikanth and even players like San Wan-ho.
At the recent Maybank Malaysian Open Superseries Premier in Kuala Lumpur, Lin Dan said: “If Chong Wei goes (qualifies) to the Rio Olympics I will make sure I too go.”
Lin Dan is a two-time Olympic champion and five-time world champion.