Badminton Life

Interview with Lee Chong Wei

Date: 25/5/2008

I recently did an interview with Lee Chong Wei and I am pleased to announce that it is finally ready for posting. He is not only a great badminton player but also a really nice and humble guy. He is in my view, a role model for all kids, teens and adults alike.

Hope you will enjoy this interview as much as we do. You might get some inspiration from his story and could one day become a great player yourself. Anything is possible when you have the will! :)

I would like to hereby thank Chong Wei for his time and hope he does really well in the coming Olympics game in Beijing. All the best!

Lee Chong Wei
Lee Chong Wei with Chau Yap

1. What age did you start playing?

I started playing badminton from the age of 11 years old.

2. Was it your intention to be a professional player from the start?

Actually that was not my intention at the start, it happens naturally as my father trained and encouraged me to play badminton when I am young.

3. When did you realize you were good enough to be a world beater?

I think it was when I am 17. That was the year when I won a lot of local tournaments and felt that I stood a chance to enter the national team. And yes my dreams turn reality that year as I was drafted to the national team set up that year.

4. How were you noticed at the national level?

I was noticed at the national level and drafted to the national team because I played in all the major local tournaments and won several of them.

5. Penang seems to produce quite a few successful badminton players at the world arena. Why is that?

I think that is because there are more people in Penang who are interested in playing this game. However this Phenomenon does not confine to Penang only. Instead it happens throughout the North Malaysia region, places like Ipoh or Alor Setar. In general the North Malaysia region has produced quite a lot of world class badminton players over the years.

6. Which year was you drafted into the national squad?

I was drafted to the national squad when I was 17 years old.

7. Have you ever considered making a name in doubles?

No, I played singles right from the start and never did consider playing doubles.

8. Did any of your batch mates made the same grade as you? If not, what was the reason?

Only a few have managed to overcome the obstacles of becoming a professional player. Players like Kuan Beng Hong, Gan Teik Chai and Lin Woon Fui are those selected few just like me. By the way, Kuan and Gan are both from Alor Setar.

Many players have drop out half way. It might be due to oneself, it might be due to their mental blocks or it might even be due to their training methods. A lot of factors and reasons are in play here.

9. What is your career highlight?

I would say that it is when I took the BWF ratings World Number 1 spot. That I would regard as my career highlight up till this stage.

10. Which incident would you consider as a low point of your career?

I think it's when I loses a game, (Lee and me burst into laughter), nothing beats the feeling of losing no matter how big or small the game is.

11. What do you think of the new rally points scoring system?

I think that in order to win in this new scoring system, one has to play at speed. You have to attack when the opportunity arises. There is also less time to recover in between points as every rally counts. Unlike the old 15 points scoring system where player's stamina and endurance is much needed because of the longer rallies that are often seen in matches.

12. Which player you admire at the start, both at the local and the international scene?

I think it would be Sun Jun. When I started picking up this sport, he was then the world champion. I really admire the way he play his game as he has quick reflexes and lightning speed on court though he is just small in size.

13. Who do you regard as the all time best player?

I personally think that the all time best player would be Yang Yang and Zhao Jian Hua. Although I have not seen them play in person, their achievement in badminton is nothing short of amazing. The more recent one for me would be Peter Gade as he was the World Number 1 consecutively for a few years when he was at his peak.

14. Which tournament you most want to win and why?

I actually have 2 tournaments that I most want to win. One is the Olympics and the other would be the World Championship. My reason is because no other Malaysians have won these 2 tournaments before and I am hoping I can bring glory back to my country.

15. Who is your most difficult opponent and why?

That would be Lin Dan. Probably because many a times I am not playing the game that I should. When I am playing my own game without pressure, I get good results from my match against him.

16. What is your strength in your game?

I would say that it is the explosiveness that I possess in my game. Like a crouching tiger waiting to pounce on it preys.

17. Which part of your game can be improved?

I think I need to improve more on my mental fitness, the physcological part of things.

18. Who is your best friend on the circuit?

That would be Taufik Hidayat on the international scene and Kuan Beng Hong on the local front.

19. How is the coaching standard in Malaysia?

Not bad. We do use a lot of overseas coaches in our national team set up. That is because BAM would like us to learn the techniques and training methods from different countries, like China, Indonesia and Denmark. I am currently coached by Misbun Sidek.

20. What is your advice for beginners and intermediate players?

Well, my advice to them is to focus on their studies if possible. (Lee and me burst into laughter again) Like me, part of the reason that I chose to play badminton as a profession is because I don't like to study. Of course now I have some success to show but the road to success is really hard.

As you know, they are so many badminton players in Malaysia and to be chosen out of the many thousands and even millions of people is not an easy feat. Talent is needed but that alone will not bring you success. Dedication, perseverance and self discipline are must haves as well. So really, my advice for young aspiring badminton players is to focus on their studies if got a chance to do so.

21. Do you consider being a professional badminton player a rewarding career?

It's quite good, nothing to complain to about.

22. What do you hope to achieve before you retire?

I would love to retire at the peak of my career. Having won all the major tournaments there is in badminton. But of course I am only hoping that I can do so. If cannot also have to retire. (Lee jokingly said)

23. In your opinion, whether it be local or overseas, who are the up and coming players?

I am not too sure about the overseas one but for the local ones, I think Tan Chun Seang from Alor Setar and Chan Kwong Beng from Taiping has the potential to succeed. Both of them also come from the Northern region of Malaysia. In my view, the 2 of them have the best chance to take over Malaysia's singles baton. They are already representing Malaysia on some smaller international tournaments.

Arif Latif is another young player that has the potential to become Malaysia's Singles player one day. He is only 18 years old and a bit small in size but if he continues to work hard in training, he has a good chance to make it.

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