Badminton Life

Nicol, Chong Wei Continue Winning Ways To Cap Memorable Year

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 20 (Bernama) -- As the curtains come down on another stimulus year for Malaysian sports, two sporting icons from Penang continued their winning ways on the international stage, to remain perched at the top of their respective sports.

Datuk Nicol David, World number one on the Women's International Squash Players' Association (WISPA) ranking and five-time world champion and World Number one in men's badminton, Datuk Lee Chong Wei, have continued to win titles on the international stage and maintain their status.

Nicol who had described 2010 as her "best year ever" after remaining unbeaten and winning a fifth world title, Commonwealth Games and Asian Games gold medals, would be starting as world number one for the sixth consecutive year when the 2011 season starts.

Her record-equalling fifth World Open title in Cairo, Egypt was one of her nine Wispa Tour titles this year which also saw her add the Asian Championship and National Open title and stay at the top for 53 consecutive months (Since Aug 2006) and 56 months as World number one.

Currently training with Australian legend Sarah Fitz-Gerald, who incidentally is also a winner of five world titles, Nicol is expected to return to Penang for a well-earned break for Christmas before starting her journey for another record breaking quest in 2011.

"I can't be expected to win all the time. I have high expectations to go in and perform. That's all I can take on," said Nicol, who won gold medals in the New Delhi Commonwealth Games and Guangzhou Asian Games.

The Penang lass, now 27, started the year by bagging the Chennai Open on March 7, went on to win the KL Open (March 20), Cayman Islands Open (April 17), Malaysian Open (July 24), Singapore Masters (July 31), Hong Kong Open (August 29), Torneo Bicentario International in Mexico (October 24) and Qatar Classic (November 12).

These victories were truly rare international achievements in the history of Malaysian and Asian sports.

Compared with Nicol's unblemished record, Chong Wei had to go through a turbulent year due to injuries but still managed to end the year on a memorable note by ending the season with the Hong Kong Open after beating arch-rival Taufik Hidayat from Indonesia.

Chong Wei who has also kept his world number one position intact, capped the most successful year of his career when he bagged the All England title in Birmingham after several failed attempts.

The Hong Kong Open was his ninth title on the professional circuit and Super Series, for 2010.

The win was Chong Wei's sixth Super Series title of the year after victories in the Korean, Malaysian, Indonesian and Japan Open.

He was also victorious in two Grand Prix Gold events in Macau and Malaysia and won the Commonwealth Games gold medal in October.

All in, Chong Wei reached 10 finals from 12 tournaments this year, with his only defeat in the final coming at the hands of nemesis Lin Dan of China at last month's Asian Games final.

The Penang lad however, failed to make an impact in the World Championships when he was knocked out in the quarterfinals.

Chong Wei who is looked up as the most likely person to win the country's first ever gold medal in the Olympics, especially at the 2012 London Olympics, will again start 2011 as the world number one for the third consecutive year.

Source from BERNAMA

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