Monday, September 13, 2010

Chong Wei fails to make Delhi date

Former All-England champion Mohd Hafiz Hashim can be counted on to retain the Commonwealth Games badminton men’s singles title for Malaysia if world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei is unable to make the date in New Delhi.

There is a lingering question mark on Chong Wei’s participation in the New Delhi Games after he picked up a back injury that dashed his hopes of winning the title at the world championships in Paris last month.

Chong Wei is currently undergoing physiotherapy to treat the injury and having opted out of the China Masters starting tomorrow in Changzhou, Hafiz may just be the main singles player for Malaysia in the Games.

Hafiz did not feature in the last Games in Melbourne in 2006 and Chong Wei won the men’s singles crown and also helped Malaysia take the mixed team title for the first time.

Eight years have lapsed since Hafiz won the men’s singles title in Manchester but the Kelantan-born shuttler said that the desire to win a second time had not diminished.

I have not produced any spectacular results but as far as the Commonwealth Games are concerned, I believe I have a good chance to win the gold for Malaysia if Chong Wei cannot play,” he said.

“I will still be in the competition if Chong Wei makes it. And I have earlier targeted myself to reach the final. I want to prove that I am still the No. 2 player in the country.

“I have a good record against the English and Indian players. I am not getting younger but I feel I have a good chance to win another gold medal.”

Hafiz, who celebrated his 28th birthday yesterday, lost to Chong Wei in the second round at the world championships but remained in 19th spot in the world rankings.

England’s Rajiv Ouseph and India’s hope Chetan Anand are among the players seen with the ability to stop Malaysia from claiming a sixth consecutive men’s singles gold medal.

Current national singles coach Rashid Sidek won gold medals in 1990 (Auckland) to become the first Malaysian winner since Punch Gunalan in 1974 (Christchurch). Rashid retained the title in 1994 (Victoria).

When Malaysia hosted the Games in 1998, Wong Choong Hann emerged as the champion.

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