Badminton: Lee claims crown and sets sights on Rio gold

Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia in action against Cheng Long (not pictured) of China during their men's single final match of Celcom-Axiata Malaysia Open Badminton tournament.
Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia in action against Cheng Long (not pictured) of China during their men's single final match of Celcom-Axiata Malaysia Open Badminton tournament.PHOTO: EPA

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia's badminton star Lee Chong Wei won his 11th Malaysia Open title yesterday, a much-needed boost for his pursuit of a still-elusive Olympic gold medal.

Lee cruised to victory with a flurry of devastating smashes against world No. 1 Chen Long from China, beating him 21-13, 21-8 in a match that lasted 42 minutes.

The world No. 4 shuttler was in fine form for the Malaysian competition after suffering early exits in the All England Championships and India Open recently.

"Many critics have said that I should retire after some poor performances. But I know within myself that I am capable of still producing the goods at the highest level and this win was the proof of that," said the 33-year-old.

"I am happy to win another title here and this triumph certainly boosts my spirits ahead of the Olympics."

Lee, one of Malaysia's most popular sports stars, has repeatedly fallen short in his pursuit of the sport's top prizes - the world and Olympic titles - despite reaching three world championship finals and two Olympic deciders. But he has set his sights firmly on crowning his career by winning his first Olympic title in Rio de Janeiro.

"No matter how much the difficulties, this is the (last) five months (before the Olympics)," he said.

"I will try my best for the Olympics that I have waited for four years."

Chen will be looking to bounce back at this week's Singapore Open, where in-form Ratchanok Intanon is seeking a third straight title.

The 2013 world champion beat Tai Tzu-ying of Chinese Taipei 21-14, 21-15 yesterday to add to the India Open title she won a week ago.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, XINHUA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 11, 2016, with the headline 'Lee claims crown and sets sights on Rio gold'. Print Edition | Subscribe