Datuk Lee Chong Wei will cut short his Chinese New Year holidays to help the Asia Team Championship prepare to make sure that they will be ready for action.
Before the team head to Hyderabad, ailment India, shop for the championships from Feb 15-21, order Lee Chong Wei will motivate and spar with the players to improve on their game. The championships also act as a qualifier for the Thomas Cup Finals in Kunshan, China, from May 15-22.
“I am not involved in the qualifiers but I will be there to help,” said Chong Wei, the winner of the season-opener Malaysian Masters last month.
“I have decided to take only a two-day break and return on the second day of the Chinese New Year (Feb 9) to train with them,” added the world No. 2.
The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) have named four untested men’s singles players – Zulfadli Zulkiffli, Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin, Soo Teck Zhi and Soong Joo Ven – for the qualifiers.
The men’s doubles players selected are Tan Kian Meng-Low Juan Shen, Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi and Tan Chee Tean-Tan Wee Gieen.
Chong Wei said he was glad with BAM’s decision to send a young brigade to Hyderabad.
“It’s a good decision. The players are very motivated and are putting extra effort in training now… I am happy to see their commitment,” he said.
“This is their chance to shine. I am doing all I can to motivate them and push them in training,” said Chong Wei, who sparred with Teck Zhi, Joo Ven and Iskandar at the Juara Stadium in Bukit Kiara on Monday.
Besides doing his part to raise the standard of the second echelon of players, Chong Wei is also working hard to make a strong comeback at the All-England from March 8-13.
The prestigious tournament in Birmingham is the opening leg of the 12-stop Superseries Tour.
“I missed it last year (due to the eight-month doping ban) but I hope to make a good impression this time,” said Chong Wei, who won the All-England in 2010, 2011 and 2014.
In his absence last season, Chen Long of China nicked the title.
“The All-England is my all-time favourite tournament since I was a kid. It will be even tougher to win this year as all the players are jostling for Olympic qualifying points,” said Chong Wei.
Those confirmed for the All-England so far are five-time champion Lin Dan of China, Kento Momota of Japan, Denmark’s Jan O Jorgensen and Viktor Axelsen, India’s K. Srikanth, Taiwan’s Chou Tien-chen, Hong Kong’s Angus Ng Ka Long, Indonesia’s Tommy Sugiarto and South Korean Son Wan-ho.