He is Malaysia’s pride and joy. This sports icon is idolised not only by Malaysians but by people from all over the world. He has a huge following in China. He is world No.1. The king of badminton and a figure to be reckoned with, he is none other than our very own Datuk Lee Chong Wei.
With his boyish look and down-to-earth demeanour, Lee is a singles player who has been ranked world No.1 for 199 consecutive weeks. Lee is the only Malaysian shuttler to hold the ranking for so long. He began by winning the silver medal in both the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games which elavated him as the first Malaysian to reach the final in the men’s singles event.
This feat also brought an end to Malaysia’s Olympic medal drought since the 1996 games. His amazing accomplishment had been recognised with a Datukship title and the acknowledgement as the country’s national hero.
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“The first sport I started playing was basketball but my involvement in badminton was sparked by my father. He loved the sport very much. Every day, after work, he would head to the badminton court and I would tag along with him. He taught me how to play the game and I slowly got the hang of it.
However, I never thought that I would play badminton professionally until I made it to the national team at the age of 17,” reminisces Lee.
Lee attributes his achievements to the fact that he had a very strict coach. Lee’s coach Datuk Misbun Sidek was a tough person who trained him hard. Lee trained with his coach for about six years. He has received reprimands, been banned from taking part in tournaments and made to practise for long hours throughout these years.
“I remember this one time when I lost my temper during practice and threw my racquet to the ground. I was banned by Misbun from returning to the court for two weeks. I then apologised for throwing a tantrum. Training went on as usual after two weeks. I guess my coach’s principles and strict training made me the champion that I am today.”
“I remember him asking what I wanted on the first day of training. I replied that I wanted to make money and become Malaysia’s No.1. He smiled at me and told me that for that, I had to give him my time and dedication. I agreed and started training hard. When I won the first Malaysian Open, I really basked in the success and have the urge to win more tournaments.”
Lee believes that in order to excel, one has to have two important traits. First is discipline. One has to be disciplined and adhere to all the rules and regulations of a sport. Secondly, the diligence to work hard. One has to give it all when training in order to be the best. For Lee, if you do not work hard then there is no point in having the talent as it will only go to waste.
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Despite the success achieved, Lee is not smug. He aspires to own his own personal stadium and academy, one day. If all goes well and fate permits, he plans to participate in the 2016 Olympics and win the gold medal.