Monday, July 30, 2012 | | By: Febi

Chong Wei's Gold Medal Quest Off To Winning Start

LONDON, July 31 (Bernama) -- World number two and the London Olympics top seed Datuk Lee Chong Wei passed his first competitive test since recovering from an ankle injury, amidst divisive circumstances.

Chong Wei, facing little known Ville Lang from Finland in a Group A match, scrapped through 21-8, 14-21, 21-11 in a match that went the distance since the Finnish player's confidence grew as the match progressed, although he had lost the first game 8-21.

Even the third and deciding game was a closely fought battle until the mid-interval as Lang showed good defensive qualities to match Chong Wei stride for stride.

The score was 10-10 in the decider before Chong Wei, using his vast experience, stepped on the throttle, to leave his opponent in a daze to triumph 21-11.

Chong Wei, the country's best bet to end a barren run of gold medals at the Olympics since Malaysia first participated at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, had suffered an ankle injury during the Thomas Cup Finals in Wuhan, China in May and had since not played any competitive matches.

Prior to the ankle injury, Chong Wei who is expected to retire after the London Olympics, had also suffered a shoulder injury when playing Lin Dan in the final of the All England championships in March.

Barring any upsets, he is expected to face China's rising star Chen Long in the semifinal and his arch-rival and defending champion Lin Dan of China in the final. The other top players in Chong Wei's half of the draw are Denmark's Peter Gade Christensen, South Korean Shon Wan-ho and Vietnam's Nguyen Tien Minh.

Defending champion Lin Dan, the second seed, has compatriot Chen Jin, Sho Sasaki (Japan), Taufik Hidayat (Indonesia) and Lee Hyun-il (South Korea) with him in the bottom half of the draw.

In another match, Malaysia's lone women's singles player in the Olympics, Tee Jing Yi beat Italian Agnese Allegrini 21-7, 21-14 in straight sets to keep her hopes alive in the competition.

Jing Yi had lost to South Korea's Bae Youn-Joo 16-21, 21-15, 12-21 on Saturday.

Meanwhile, national archer Haziq Kamaruddin's Olympic campaign came to an end when he lost to Gankin Denis of Kazakhstan in the men's individual Recurve event by the narrowest of margin, losing 134-135.

Tuesday, Malaysia's gold medal quest continues in women's diving where Pandelela Rinong and Leong Mun Yee compete in the 10m Platform Synchronized diving.

Archer Cheng Chu Sian will try to make amends for a disappointing outing in the team event when he starts firing in the men's Individual Recurve while women archer Nurul Syafikah Hashim will also see action in the women's individual Recurve.

From Zulhilmi Supaat -- BERNAMA

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