KUALA LUMPUR: Shuttlers Lin Dan of China and Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei, arch-rivals and finalists in the last two Olympic men’s singles competition, will not be clashing for a third gold medal in Rio de Janeiro.
Top seed Chong Wei may face the two-time Olympic title-holder from China in the semi-finals this time, but he is not thinking that far ahead.
“The draw is okay for me compared to others, but I want to take it one match at a time. I know Lin Dan is in the same half with me, but I don’t want to think until the semis yet.
“This is the Olympics and everyone will give his best to win.
“When I’m playing him, then I’ll deal with him,” said Chong Wei, who has an easier route to the semi-finals as he is likely to meet Taiwan’s sixth-seeded Chou Tien-chen in the last eight.
Chong Wei, who won the silver in Beijing in 2008 and in London four years ago, should breeze through to win Group A, which includes Soren Opti of Surinam and Derek Wong of Singapore.
The winners of the group stages in the singles will qualify for the knockout rounds. Chong Wei has been given a bye into the last eight as one of the top two seeds.
Third-seeded Lin Dan will not have it easy to reach the medal rounds as he could meet fifth seed Jan Jorgensen of Denmark in the last eight.
Second seed and reigning world champion Chen Long of China can breathe a sigh of relief as he will not face his compatriot until the final.
Chen Long will probably take on South Korean Son Wan-ho in the last eight and, if he goes through to the semi-finals, should meet fourth seed Viktor Axelsen of Denmark.
With the whole nation expecting him to deliver the gold medal, Chong Wei said that he is okay dealing with it.
“I hope I can do well in my fourth and last Olympics. I’ve learnt over the years how to deal with pressure.
“I will fight in every match and, if I lose after giving my best, it’s perhaps fated,” said the 33-year-old from Penang, who will be the Malaysian flag bearer in Rio.
The shuttlers will leave for Rio de Janeiro tomorrow.
In men’s doubles, Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong have Zhang Nan-Fu Haifeng of China for company in Group B.
The Chinese fourth seeds should be their toughest opponents in the group, which also includes Germans Michael Fuchs-Johannes Schottle and Americans Sattawat Pongnairat-Phillip Chew.
Mixed doubles pair Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying can fancy their chances of reaching the last eight in Rio this time.
The world No. 10 Malaysians should emerge as one of the two pairs to go through to the knockout stage as they are in Group C with third seeds Tontowi Ahmad -Lilyana Natsir of Indonesia, Robin Middleton-Leanne Choo of Australia and Bodin Issara-Savitree Amitrapai of Thailand.
It’s also a good draw for women’s doubles pair Vivian Hoo-Woon Khe Wei as they are in Group C with third seeds Nitya Krishinda Maheswari-Greysia Polii of Indonesia, Heather Olver-Lauren Smith of England and Poon Lok Yan-Tse Ying Suet of Hong Kong.