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Lin Dan says No Wei!

IT was 79 minutes that kept fans at the edge of their seats.

Malaysians were all hoping for a fairy tale ending – the perfect gift to celebrate the nation’s 55th birthday and to end the Olympic gold medal drought.

It was supposed to be a picture of jubilation where top national shuttler Lee Chong Wei was to kiss the Jalur Gemilang on his track top as he held the gold medal with pride. The Negaraku was supposed to echo within the walls of the Wembley Arena, at an Olympic event for the first time.

But it was not meant to be.

Instead, it was déjà vu for badminton lovers.

History repeated itself in a cruel manner as the same pictures that splashed the local dailies in 2008 Beijing will be seen again tomorrow – the picture of Lin Dan biting the gold medal with Chong Wei playing bridesmaid with the silver medal around his neck. The third placed is dominated by the Chens – at the 2008 Beijing Olympics it was Chen Jin and at the London edition it was Chen Long.

Despite a gritty performance and managing an early lead by netting the first set 21-15, Chong Wei lost the remaining sets 21-10, 21-19.

It was also a difficult moment for Olympic Council of Malaysia president Tunku Imran Tuanku Jaafar who could only offer words of encouragement during the prize presentation ceremony. It was obvious Chong Wei was disappointed. Tears were rolling down his cheeks but he puts a brave front on the podium.

Chong Wei's official twitter account (@Lee_C_Wei) had later read; "I'm sorry". It was an apology - a trait hardly seen among our sports officials and politicians.

Nevertheless, the Perak-born Penang-bred Chong Wei has nothing to be ashamed of. And judging by his inspiration run, he won the hearts of many who insisted he was the true Malaysian hero at the end of the day.

He did put on a better display this time around compared to his 2008 final where he lost tamely 21-12, 21-8.

So what is next for the national badminton scene?

It is highly unlikely Chong Wei will see action at the 2016 Games.

Who will be able to fill Chong Wei's shoes - a man who has dominated the world standings for four years up until recently?

One must also not forget about the likes of Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong. Despite an unconvincing performance in the bronze medal playoffs against South Koreans Chung Jae Sung and Lee Yong Dae, the Malaysian duo are still the best doubles pair the country has got to offer.

It remains to be seen if former world and Asian junior champion Zulfadli Zulkifli will be able to step up his game to join the likes of his senior counterparts.

Indonesia is facing such shortage of talent as well as both countries – who once dominated the scene - continue to struggle at the world stage, it is interesting to see the likes of India and even Russia stepping up.

Prior to 2008, the last time the national team won the silver medal was through Yap Kim Hock and Cheah Soon Kit at the 1996 Games in Atlanta.

Do we need to wait for another 12 years before our athletes play in the final?

That remains to be seen.


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