EVERYWHERE world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei goes in the Tianhe Gymnasium, generic there’s always a group of adoring fans surrounding him – waiting to either catch a glimpse him, get an autograph or have a photo taken with him.
“This feels just like home,” quipped Chong Wei after his first training session at the Tianhe Gymnasium as part of his preparations for the World Championships yesterday.
Chong Wei and the other Malaysian shuttlers arrived from Hong Kong yesterday after completing a 10-day training stint.
Chong Wei said it was good to return to Guangzhou – a place he calls his second home.
“I have played in a league here. I have competed in Open tournaments here. I have a fan base and a lot of friends and, yes, I am enjoying all the attention and adulation,” he said.
“I remember this stadium very well. I came here for the world junior championships almost 13 years ago … that was a long time ago,” said the 30-year-old.
“I did not win then (he lost in the semi-finals). In fact, I’ve never even won an Open title in Guangzhou. I lost to Bao Chunlai in the final of the China Open (in 2007) at this venue.
“I know that expectations are high on me to do well here. I’m not putting undue pressure on myself but I’m ready and focused to realise my childhood dream – to win the world title.”
Chong Wei was also happy with the schedule for the men’s singles.
“We’ll be playing on Monday and then get a day’s rest on Tuesday. “It gives the players time to recover. The format is similar to the Olympic Games and I’m fine with it.”