Don’t be surprised if former world No. 1 shuttler Lee Chong Wei does a Lin Dan by responding with a smart salute if he wins the gold medal at the London Olympics,
He has every reason to do so as he is now officially a lieutenant commander of the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) – albeit an honorary one. Yesterday, Chong Wei became the first national sportsman to be bestowed with the honorary commission at Pulapol yesterday.
“I will surely salute if I win a gold medal in London,” said a beaming Chong Wei, dressed in a striking white RMN uniform, showing off the two medium gold braid stripes on his shoulder.
In the past, four-time world champion Lin Dan of China, who had represented the People’s Liberation Army team, had always raised his hand in salutation - especially after major wins. Who can forget the image of Lin Dan saluting with pride after beating Chong Wei for the gold at the Beijing Games four years ago - and on many other occasions after that.
Hopefully, the role will be reversed this time in London.
Chong Wei was ecstatic to be appointed sports ambassador for the Malaysian navy.
“This is one of the highest ranks bestowed on a sportsman and I’m very honoured. This was given with the consent of our King and I’m ready to live up to the responsibility that this award brings,” said Chong Wei.
“It means always presenting a good image as an icon of the navy. This uniform certainly makes one feel and look good but it comes with a heavy responsibility. I vow to be a good role model.
“This is also a timely motivation for me to be more focused and disciplined in my preparation for the London Games.”
Chong Wei is racing against time to be fully fit to face the arduous task of winning the country’s first Olympic gold medal.
He is well on the road to recovery after injuring his ankle during the Thomas Cup Finals in Wuhan in May. But the training time lost may prove to be a setback although Chong Wei is determined to push himself in the remaining three weeks before the start of his biggest challenge.
Besides Lin Dan, he will have to contend with two other China aces in Chen Long and Chen Jin.
Veterans Peter-Gade Christensen of Denmark, Indonesia’s Taufik Hidayat and South Korea’s Lee Hyun-il will also be there but none of them are expected to end their final Olympics on a golden note as they have been struggling with injuries and the ravages of time.
“I’m not at my best yet but this is my last Olympics so I’m going to give it my all to make it a memorable outing,” said the 29-year-old Chong Wei of his third Olympic Games.
The draw for the men’s singles event will be made on July 23.
The 40 men’s singles qualifiers will be divided into 16 groups with only the group winners advancing to the elimination round.