In badminton, the challenge for the current crop is to beat the Chinese brigade. In many ways, Lee Chong Wei has been the torch-bearer of this campaign, holding the world No 1 crown for 199 consecutive weeks — from August 2008 to June 2012.
It’s over a week since India’s badminton-loving community has yearned to catch the world No 1, and while Monday did not see the man in action, he put in a public appearance on his first trip to India since winning the India Open series in April.
Dressed in his Mumbai Masters’ training outfit, Chong Wei sauntered into the bustling National Sports Club of India (NSCI). The question though was whether the Malaysian was fit and ready to play. “After resting for a couple of days I am ready to play and win some matches for my team,” he said.
Chong Wei had injured his knee during the World Championship final against Lin Dan and coach Tek Seu Bock had complained that switching off the air-conditioning at the arena had aggravated the injury.
He arrived here on Saturday, four days after the Indian Badminton League kicked off, and the shuttler appeared relaxed. “It was a matter of a few days, I have managed to take rest and will look to start after a little more practice,” he said.
“To play the first game in the team’s home city is exciting. I am looking forward to the challenge. Hopefully, it will be a successful one,” he added.
Chong Wei will be in action today as his team faces the Delhi Smashers. “It (tournament format) is an interesting concept and will do well,” he said.
“The Indian team is one of the best. Players like Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu and (Parupalli) Kashyap have come up fast and are playing excellent badminton. If they continue in the same vein India can be the top side soon,” he added.