KUALA LUMPUR, June 14 ― The enthusiasm and commitment shown by Datuk Lee Chong Wei somewhat took the “burden” off national men's singles head coach Datuk Misbun Sidek and instead gave him joy in coaching the former world number one.
Misbun said one of the things he liked best about training the 37-year-old was Chong Wei’s jealous nature, which added colour to their training sessions.
According to Misbun, the legendary player would show a sense of jealousy if Misbun were to give more attention and time in court to other players.
“I like his jealous attitude… it was actually positive. He could not stand seeing me train other players for too long; he would walk onto the court and reclaim the training slot.
“Chong Wei was willing to come early to win my heart (to focus more on him). If I told him training would start at 6am, he would arrive at 5.30am.
“He made me excited to train him and made me want to come early and to help him even more,” he said when met at the Malaysian Badminton Academy (ABM) in Bukit Kiara here today.
Yesterday, the three-time Olympic silver medallist announced his retirement after 19 years of bringing glory to the country.
Obviously, Misbun was among the people most affected with Chong Wei's decision, but at the same time he was happy because it was made for health reasons.
Misbun, a badminton legend himself in the 80s, was instrumental in unearthing Chong Wei’s talent when he was 17, back in 1999.
Misbun was part of the coaching team who took seven years to strengthen Chong Wei and polish his skills until he brought home a silver medal at the Beijing Olympics 2008.
“I’m having mixed emotions. Firstly, I am sad over his retirement after his long and illustrious career.
“We saw the hardship he had to endure in order to become a great player, the world number one. That was my dream too. But I am happy he fought and overcame cancer.
“For now, his health has improved and is almost back to normal. That’s my sentiment,” he said.
Misbun also said Chong Wei is welcome to spar with the young players in the national squad.
He said his presence would be a great motivating factor for the players as Chong Wei had a certain aura.
“I have already told him that he could come to our training anytime, because his presence would be a huge inspiration to the players as he was considered the 'King of Superseries', Malaysia’s pillar of strength… a legend.
“When he comes, he would bring with him his charismatic nature and aura so respected by players. Usually, it is hard to get close to a star player but the down-to-earth Chong Wei is something else, he could come to the training and would inspire others,” he said.
At a press conference yesterday, Chong Wei also expressed his willingness to help the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) groom Malaysian players into world beaters.
He said he was willing to be a “sparring partner” to other players to help realise Malaysia’s dream of winning the country’s first Olympic gold medal. ― Bernama