Thursday, August 2, 2012 | | By: Febi

Chong Wei declares he’s going for top prize after slaying Kashyap

MALAYSIAN world No. 2 Lee Chong Wei brushed aside India’s Kashyap Parupalli in the quarter-finals of the men’s singles badminton competition and immediately declared: “I am going for the Olympic gold”.

Chong Wei took 44 minutes to overcome Kashyap 21-19, 21-11 at the Wembley Arena to set up a tantalising semi-final against China’s Chen Long today.

Chen Long defeated Peter-Gade Christensen of Denmark 21-16, 21-13 in the other quarter-final tie.
Chong Wei and Chen Long have met 10 times, with the Malaysian holding a 6-4 advantage.
“It won’t be easy against Chen Long but I hope to be well-prepared this time. Like I said, I want to go for the gold and there is no way I will let this chance slip by me,” said Chong Wei, who defeated the Chinese ace 21-18, 17-21, 21-13 when they last met – in the semi-finals of the Maybank Malaysian Open in January.

“He is a good attacking player and he also has the height advantage. Still, I have played against him before and I know how to handle him.”
However, it very nearly went wrong for Chong Wei last night, especially as he found himself trailing Kashyap for the most part of the first game.

But Chong Wei showed his pedigree by clawing his way back to take the first game 21-19 in 27 minutes before sealing victory by taking the second game 21-11 in just 17 minutes.
Chong Wei admitted that his performance in the first game was slow and erratic “because Kashyap broke my rhythm”.

“It was a good preparation for me and it allowed me to review some aspects of my game. Kashyap has improved since I played against him last year,” said Chong Wei, who is playing in his first tournament since injuring his ankle in the Thomas Cup Finals in May.

“I had to follow his rhythm as he went for every shot. Luckily, I managed to control the game as it progressed and it became easier for me to get the points.”

Chong Wei feels that the way he fought back proved that he is well and truly over the injury.
Chong Wei is not the only one chasing gold this time as Malaysia’s men’s doubles aces Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong are also two wins away from an Olympic medal after clinically disposing of Thailand’s Isara Bodin-Jongkit Maneepong 21-16, 21-18 in their quarter-final tie earlier yesterday.
Kien Keat-Boon Heong too will be up against the great wall of China – in the form of top seeds Cai Yun-Fu Haifeng in the semi-finals.

Cai Yun-Haifeng beat compatriots Chai Biao-Guo Zhedong 21-15, 21-19 in the quarter-finals.
Kien Keat-Boon Heong, who fell in the quarter-finals when they made their Olympic debut in Beijing 2008, have gone one step further this time and are hoping to create history by lifting Malaysia’s first gold.

Cheah Soon Kit-Yap Kim Hock won the doubles silver at Atlanta 1996 while Choong Tan Fook-Lee Wan Wah reached the semi-finals in Sydney 2000 but failed to win a medal.
Kien Keat attributed their return to form, after a long slump, to their improved coordination and understanding.

“It wasn’t an easy match. The Thais played well and pushed us hard but we took the lead and opened up a gap to stay in control,” he said.

“We are looking forward to the semi-finals. There are two matches to go for a medal and we will try our very best. We want to win the gold medal,” he said.

Boon Heong felt they were able to handle the pressure a little better and stick to plan.
“There will always be pressure. It’s a matter of dealing with it.

“We kept the mistakes down to a minimum and were able to attack when the opportunity arose,” he said.

“The semis will be tough but then all matches at this level are.”
National doubles coach Tan Kim Her said the pair were playing with better understanding.
“There are still two matches to go but their confidence is high and they will be trying very hard to go all the way,” he said.

Kien Keat and Boon Heong have a 4-9 record against Cai Yun-Haifeng. Their last meeting, in the Thomas Cup Finals in May, ended in a 21-17, 21-18 win for the Chinese.
“It will be 50-50 against Cai Yun-Haifeng. But if our boys win, I can say that they will go on to take the gold medal,” said Kim Her.


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