Games campaign ends for S'pore shuttlers

Derek Wong failing to return a shot against Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei during their Group A tie yesterday. The Singaporean shuttler fell to the world No. 1 in straight games, losing 18-21, 8-21, before hinting at possible retirement.
Derek Wong failing to return a shot against Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei during their Group A tie yesterday. The Singaporean shuttler fell to the world No. 1 in straight games, losing 18-21, 8-21, before hinting at possible retirement.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Challenge ends as both singles players lose, even as Wong plans to 'slow down or stop'

He had just played what was very likely his last Olympic match, with no events lined up for the next few months.

But for someone who knows a step back from elite-level badminton is on the cards, Derek Wong cut a content, collected figure yesterday.

Following the 18-21, 8-21 defeat by world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei that ended his second Olympic campaign, the 27-year-old Singaporean dropped the biggest hint yet that he could soon call time on his career.

The world No. 55, a silver medallist at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, ruled out a run for a third straight Games at the 2020 Tokyo edition.

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  • Combined ranking of Derek Wong's top two Olympic opponents - No . 1 Lee Chong Wei at Rio 2016 and No. 13 Jan O Jorgensen at London 2012

"I'm going to slow down, or stop - it all depends," said Wong.

He later explained to The Straits Times that while his decision to take a step back may be unexpected, his body is unable to sustain the training that high-level badminton demands. He also felt his style of play is gradually becoming irrelevant for the game today.

He said: "The game is more about rallies and playing a patient game overall but my game has all along been about aggression, speed, power play, so changing has always been a big hurdle for me.

"I don't want to (block) the younger generation from coming up and participating in the Olympics. The Singapore Badminton Association has a plan for the next batch of juniors to come up, so I hope they can increase their level (of play) at a faster pace and go for it."

Wong took heart from the fact that his two Olympics have included matches against some of the best players, including world No. 13 Jan O Jorgensen of Denmark in 2012 and Lee yesterday.

Despite a fourth defeat in as many encounters, his strategy to move his Malaysian counterpart around the court yielded results for Wong, who posted a creditable effort in the first game and strung four straight points against the double Olympic silver medallist twice.

Said Wong, who tipped Lee to at least make the final: "It's not easy to sustain momentum like that against someone like Chong Wei.

"You can see the focus in his eyes for every point. He played a perfect second game, made very few mistakes and it was very difficult to get him out of position.

"I've managed to have quite a few good matches at the Olympics. It's not a bad run."

Team-mate Liang Xiaoyu also ended her maiden Olympic campaign yesterday after going down 21-17, 21-11 to South Korea's Sung Ji Hyun.

For the 20-year-old, the Olympics have proven to be a stage like no other. She said: "The nerves, the excitement you feel... you don't get it anywhere else. I wasn't as nervous today as I was yesterday, but was more anxious in trying to win points."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 15, 2016, with the headline 'Games campaign ends for S'pore shuttlers'. Print Edition | Subscribe