Badminton: Chong Wei plays down hopes of Olympic gold

Malaysian star Lee Chong Wei (left) acknowledging the crowd in Wuhan after defeating home favourite Chen Long in the men's singles final at the Badminton Asia Championships in Wuhan yesterday. With that win, Lee has a 13-12 edge in career meetings wi
Malaysian star Lee Chong Wei (left) acknowledging the crowd in Wuhan after defeating home favourite Chen Long in the men's singles final at the Badminton Asia Championships in Wuhan yesterday. With that win, Lee has a 13-12 edge in career meetings with the world No. 1. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

He beat his two main rivals en route to Asian crown but says Rio will be a 'different story'

BEIJING • Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei defeated world No. 1 Chen Long in the final of the Badminton Asia Championships yesterday.

He prevailed 21-17, 15-21, 21-13 in the closely-fought final that lasted 1hr 22m in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

It was also the 33-year-old's fourth win in a row against Chen.

Lee last lost to the two-time world champion in the Jakarta World Championship final last August, before beating Chen Long at the China Open, Hong Kong Open as well as Malaysia Open in April.

It was the world No. 2's third title this year and his second Asia championship. He last won this tournament in 2006.

In the first game, Chen gained seven straight points after trailing 8-11 to overtake Lee 15-11. But the Malaysian fought back to win six straight points to wrap up the game 21-17.

The Chinese bounced back in the second game with a 21-15 win.

In the decider, Lee showcased his skills by winning it comfortably 21-13.

That gave him a US$15,000 (S$20,160) cheque and brought his winning record against Chen to 13-12 since they first clashed in 2009.

In the semi-final on Saturday, Lee had defeated two-time Olympic gold medallist Lin Dan 22-20, 15-21, 21-4, while Chen crushed compatriot Tian Houwei 21-14, 21-16.

With those two wins, Lee gained a psychological edge over his Chinese rivals before August's Rio Olympics.

"This is only the championship of one tournament and not my ultimate target," said Lee.

"Even if I lost here, I can still come back next year for the same tournament, but it won't be the same if I lose in Rio.

"I have beaten both Lin and Chen in Wuhan but it doesn't mean I can repeat the same result in Rio. The Olympic Games is a totally different story."

In the women's singles, China's Wang Yihan defeated compatriot Li Xuerui 21-14, 13-21, 21-16 in an hour, clinching her third Asian title.

It was an even match with both players having won nine games against each other before today's contest.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 02, 2016, with the headline 'Chong Wei downplays Olympic gold hopes'. Print Edition | Subscribe