VIN­TAGE CHONG WEI

Vet­eran’s fourth All Eng­land suc­cess proves age is not a barrier

New Straits Times - - Sport - FABIAN PETER fabian.mark@nst.com.my

AGE is just a num­ber, and Lee Chong Wei demon­strated it in style when he bagged his fourth All Eng­land ti­tle on Sun­day.

At 35, Chong Wei proved he is an out­stand­ing ath­lete by de­fy­ing the odds to re­cover in time from a knee in­jury to make the trip to Birm­ing­ham.

De­spite just a week of train­ing ses­sions, Chong Wei de­feated his op­po­nents one by one un­til the fi­nal stage, where he proved too strong for his 21-year-old Shi Yuqi of China.

What is his limit? Will he still be there at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics when he is 38?

Fol­low­ing yes­ter­day’s vic­tory, Chong Wei, who had also won the All Eng­land crown in 2010, 2011 and 2014, said: “I am very happy that I fought hard to come and play here in Birm­ing­ham. It was the right de­ci­sion de­spite my in­jury.

“My con­di­tion is slowly pick­ing up, and I’m start­ing to adapt to top level com­pe­ti­tion that I am so used to.

“Yes, I did say I will re­turn to the All Eng­land next month, and so I did.

“As of now, I have a strong mo­men­tum go­ing, so I will push my­self to see how far I go this year with a few more tour­na­ments lined up.”

The three-time Olympic sil­ver medal­list will re­turn to Kuala Lumpur to­day to con­tinue pre­par­ing him­self be­fore fly­ing off to New Delhi for the In­dia Open on March 28-April 2.

Mean­while, mixed dou­bles Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying were left to rue their missed op­por­tu­nity af­ter com­ing ag­o­nis­ingly close to win­ning their maiden All Eng­land crown but fell short in the fi­nal to China’s Lu Kai-Huang Yaqiong.

A dev­as­tated Liu Ying, who has been battling in­juries, posted on her Face­book page: “We came so close yet we couldn’t land the ti­tle.

“We should have won it in the sec­ond game, but I must say that the um­pire’s de­ci­sions did throw us off a lit­tle.

“I am happy that all our fans stood by us and this is all a valu­able learn­ing les­son for us.”

AP PIC

Lee Chong Wei cel­e­brates his All Eng­land vic­tory in Birm­ing­ham on Sun­day.

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