Badminton Life

Lee Chong Wei Feeling the Pressure

Malaysia's main medal hope Lee Chong Wei has admitted that the pressure of a country pining for a gold medal is starting to weigh on his shoulders.

Lee has emerged as a genuine gold medal contender at the Beijing Olympics in August after a series of good results.

He recently won the Singapore Open but his most eye-opening victory was over China's world number one Lin Dan during Malaysia's 3-2 defeat in the semi-finals of May's Thomas Cup in Jakarta.

That showed that he was capable of rising to the occasion at the highest level and beat the top players.

Malaysia have never won a gold medal at the Olympics and the fans now feel that Lee is the man to break that duck. However, Lee said that the pressure of expectation is getting to him.

"The Olympics happen once every four years and there is a lot of pressure and expectation on me to win," he was quoted as saying in the Singapore media.

"The whole of Malaysia wants a medal, preferably gold, and I really do not want to disappoint them. To be honest, I do think a lot about it. There is a lot of pressure.

"My target is to win a medal and the key, I believe, is mental strength."

Lee is ranked second in the world and will also be the second seed for the Olympic men's singles tournament in Beijing. Apart from Lin, he faces a tough road in Beijing with China's world number three Bao Chunlai and fourth-ranked Chen Jin also blocking his path.

One person who believes Lee has a great chance of a gold medal is Denmark's former world number one Pete Gade.

Gade was quoted as saying: "For me, Lin Dan and Chong Wei are the two best players in the world today, and based on current form, maybe Chong Wei is the better player.

"His form at the Thomas Cup in Jakarta was outstanding, especially in his win over Lin Dan. He is the player to watch in Beijing."

With Lee admitting that mental strength will be key, he has enlisted the help of sports psychologist Frederick Tan, who has been helping him for the past 18 months.

Said Lee: "Having Frederick around has helped the mental side of my game tremendously."

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