KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 12 — It is a case of not forgetting your roots for Malaysia’s badminton living legend, Datuk Lee Chong Wei, who has contributed RM2 million to the Malaysian Badminton Association (BAM) and the National Sports Council (NSC), through the Lee Chong Wei Foundation.
For the love of the sport that has been in his blood for the past 19 years, Chong Wei donated RM1.4 million to BAM for the development of the badminton.
Chong Wei called it quits on June 13 for health reasons.
The NSC, the organisation that helped Chong Wei throughout his career, meanwhile received RM600,000 from the former World Number One for the purpose of preparing its athletes for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
“Competing at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was my dream, but I had to retire for health reasons. So, I hope that with this funding, it could be used for athletes preparation to qualify (for the Olympics),” he told reporters at the National Sporting Month celebration at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil, here today.
He said the foundation was also looking into the proposal to sponsor potential athletes to pursue a career in sports as well as for those who faced the difficulty of getting sponsorship from the private sector.
Commenting on the athletes’ preparation for the remaining nine months before the 2020 Olympics, Chong Wei, who will be the Chef-de-Mission (CDM) of the Malaysian contingent to Tokyo, advised them to try to avoid injury in their quest to for hunt slots for the quadrennial Games.
“I have not been able to win a gold medal for the country but I hope the athletes I will bring to Tokyo would be able do that. But what is most important right now, we do not put pressure on the athletes.
“The Olympics is the biggest sporting event in the world and the challenges are certainly huge. The athletes need to be mentally prepared. What I hope for now is that all athletes are healthy, have no injuries and continue to pursue qualifications,” he said.
On some sports, including badminton, that have yet to gain a slot in Tokyo, Chong Wei said all athletes had been tough times, especially this year, as the challenge from other countries was intense since every athlete would have a similar goal.
In fact, he noted that it would not be fair to set a medal target for certain athletes now, as all of them were still struggling to secure qualification, and those who had already obtained a merit ticket were undergoing intensive training for that purpose.
“What is important now is that we want more national athletes to go to the Olympics. Medals...all athletes can contribute a medal. Through diving, Azizul (Azizulhasni Awang) in cycling and archery as well as Farah Ann, who just qualified.
“For badminton, it is only after April 31, 2020, that we can find out who gets a slot in the Olympics. For us to set a target on Lee Zii Jia, is also uncertain because his results are still unstable. Regardless, there are still many who are looking for a slot such as hockey, archery. We hope more athletes will qualify,” said Chong Wei, who will begin his official role as CDM in January next year.
Eight national athletes have qualified for the 2020 Olympics so far and they are Pandelela Rinong, Leong Mun Yee, Nur Dhabitah Sabri and Wendy Ng Yan Yee (diving); Khairulnizam Mohd Afendy and Nur Shazrin Mohd Latif (sailing); Khairul Anuar Mohamad (archery) and Farah Ann Abdul Hadi (gymnastics). — Bernama