Datuk Lee Chong Wei – Welcome home hero

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KUALA LUMPUR – Lee Chong Wei may have brought home only an Olympics silver medal on his return from London this morning but it was still party time for thousands of fans at the KLIA.

These fans arrived as early as 4:30am and eagerly waited for Chong Wei to give him a hero welcome home after that thrilling three-game battle against Lin Dan for the gold at Wembley Arena on Sunday.

And today is a working and schooling day. Imagine if it’s on a weekend or public holiday, it would have been more and more fans at the airport.

These fans, like millions more in the country, still love Chong Wei despite his unsuccessful attempt at winning Malaysia’s first ever Olympics gold medal since we first participated in 1956.

They know the 29-year-old has been contributing a lot to the country besides building up his name as the top two players in the world right now. He is also like an ambassador who promotes the country by participating in big tournaments which are telecast live over satellite TV.

That’s why many fans are fuming mad with Kota Alam’s DAP assemblyman M Manoharan who made disparaging comments about Chong Wei’s defeat to Lin Dan.

These fans are angry as Chong Wei and badminton have nothing to do with politics. They say, nowadays, desperate politicians will politicize on anything to score points.

The fans also asked what has Manoharan do for the country? Practically nothing.

The good news for the fans is that Chong Wei has given his assurance he will be around until 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.

He also said winning the World Championships next year would be a priority to him. There you are, he still has that hunger to be more successful.

Chong Wei, at the same time, called for Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) to step up its search for the next Malaysian champion as he won’t be playing forever.

He said BAM must ensure that there are players coming through the ranks to take over.

He said BAM has a new system in place and are looking at grassroots development in greater detail and there are quite a number of coaches who have come to the fold and are willing to help.

Chong Wei added a concerted effort must be made to unearth and nurture players who have potential to become world beaters. – mD