SEPANG – Chances of winning the men’s singles title in the World Championships that will be held at Istora Senayan, Jakarta from Aug 10 to 16, is more open compared to previous editions said former world number one Datuk Lee Chong Wei.
Chong Wei said up and coming players like Chou Tien-chen from China, Kento Momota (Japan), K. Srikanth (India) and Jan O Jorgensen (Denmark), are all title contenders and not just Chen Long and Lin Dan from China.
“This time there is an open chance. I mean…a lot of new players are coming up. Not like two or three years ago when the focus was only on me and Lin Dan. I feel it will be a good championship in Jakarta.
“I hope all players in the Malaysian contingent can give their best to hoist the image of the country,” he told reporters at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) here before leaving to Jakarta, Indonesia, today.
Chong Wei’s top most priority in the World Championships will be to improve his current position of 45th in the BWF ranking and qualify for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics in Brazil.
Chong Wei who is not seeded in the championships, however, is expected to have a smooth ride in the early rounds since he would not be meeting Chen Long, Lin Dan or Jan O Jorgensen.
Based on the draw by the Badminton World Federation (BWF), Chong Wei, seeking to win the elusive world championship, will face Kestutis Navickas from Lithuania in the opening round.
Apart from Chong Wei who returns to his first major competition since serving an eight-month suspension for a doping offence, and former world junior champion Zulfadli Zulkifli will lead the country’s charge in the men’s singles.
Chong Wei has come close to winning the title on three previous occasions but had to be contended with the runner-up position in 2011, 2013 and 2014, the last being in Copenhagen, Denmark where he failed a random dope test.
Meanwhile, Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) Technical Director, Morten Frost Hansen said he was confident and believed Chong Wei could bring the World Championship title, this year.
“I hope everyone can perform to par or over par…go there, enjoy and play the hardest you can to be the best. Hopefully players can get a good learning experience as well,” he said. – BERNAMA