Tough Misbun Sidek made Chong Wei cry
BY BEH YUEN HUI
Despite the praises and congratulatory messages badminton superstar Lee Chong Wei received after his Olympic performance, there was one phone call he was dreading to make when he returned with his silver medal—the call to his ex-coach, legendary sportsman Misbun Sidek.
"He's someone I will never forget," Chong Wei told Daily Chilli, adding that when he finally did phone his former mentor, he apologised for not winning the gold but wouldn't reveal what Misbun said to him in return.
Recalling their first meeting when he joined the national team at age 17, Chong Wei said: "He asked me what I wanted to achieve and I said I wanted money. He asked again and I said I needed the money to buy a car."
But Misbun, Malaysia's greatest badminton idol of the '80s, didn't appear disappointed by his answers. Instead he asked Chong Wei for one more reason and only then did Chong Wei say he wanted to be the best player he could be.
Misbun then told the young lad that if he surrendered his time and commitment to the game, that Misbun would take care of the rest—and he was true to his word. "It was very tough training under Misbun," said Chong Wei. "I would cry and he would ignore me, take his rackets and go home."
Misbun guided Chong Wei for seven years to the top of his game. "He has contributed so much to my success," said the two-time Olympic silver medallist, adding that what goes around comes around and so he wants to help aspiring badminton players be their best, too.
"I hope I can inspire the junior players," he told DC during a recent RM100,000 cheque presentation by The Star Publications for his London Games performance. "You see, when I win I get a lot of cash prizes, a lot of sponsorships. … You have to train hard. One day you'll become a champion, too."
Chong Wei said he would use the money to fund his plan for his own badminton stadium, to develop more national athletes for the future.
As for his own future, he said the next two years would decide if he's going to play at the Rio Games 2016. He had said that this would be his final Olympics after coming back from injury. "Sportsmen get injuries at any time. I don't know, I have to see if my condition allows me to play then."
Meanwhile, his friendly rivalry with world number one and Chinese superstar Lin Dan, who defeated Chong Wei in two Olympics for the gold, continues off the court. Lin Dan has invited Chong Wei to his wedding next month but Chong Wei hasn't sent his RSVP. "He called. … I don't know yet," said Chong Wei.
Lin Dan married Chinese ex-shuttler Xie Xingfang two years ago after a nine-year relationship, but held off on a wedding banquet as he was training for the Olympics. Lin Dan has also asked Indonesia's Taufik Hidayat and Denmark's Peter Gade to attend the ceremony.
Chong Wei himself is rumoured to be engaged to Wong Mew Choo, but won't talk about it. "Don't ask lah,” he pleaded.
Published: 3rd September 2012