Lee Chong Wei eying Rio gold

Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia, now playing for Hyderabad Hunters in the on-going Premier Badminton League, insists that the 2016 Rio Olympics — if he makes the cut — will be his last attempt to win the coveted medal.

Lee Chong Wei in action.   -  PTI

The hunt is for the elusive Olympic gold. But the 33-year-old Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia, now playing for Hyderabad Hunters in the on-going Premier Badminton League, insists that the 2016 Rio Olympics — if he makes the cut — will be his last attempt to win the coveted medal.

“Yes, for sure, this will be my last Olympics. So, the first objective is to qualify for the Rio Games and I am really training hard for that,” says Lee, a former World No. 1 for nearly six years. “I have nothing to lose in this Olympics campaign. It will be tough as there are a lot of players who are really coming up well,” he says.

The champion shuttler who was back in the circuit late last year after serving an eight-month suspension for doping violation, says that only he knows what kind of a struggle he underwent during that turbulent phase. “But I must thank my parents, wife, coaches, the fans and the media for supporting in my hour of crisis,” he adds.

Lee, who settled for silver twice in the 2008 and the 2012 Olympics, says that he has been training really hard to peak at the right time. “Obviously, only one will win gold and this time I hope it will be me,” he says with a big smile when asked as to why he failed to win either the Olympics or the World Championship gold (in Worlds he was thrice silver medallist).

“There is pressure definitely on me to win a gold but again nothing new. When you are the best player of your country you have to face things especially in the year of Olympics,” Lee points out.

The three-time All England champion feels that training under Hendrawan and Tey Sou Bock has helped him to be more aggressive and come up with some unique strokes. “I hope everything goes as per the plan,” Lee says.

“One thing for sure, the suspension last year has made me mentally tougher and I am ready for any battle now,” points out the seasoned campaigner.

“Yes, the fact that I won three major titles on my comeback is a pointer that I still belong to the elite group,” Lee says. “There is no doubt the focus is on the Rio Olympics. Since it will be one last attempt from my side, there will be serious and conscious efforts to keep improving to realise that dream of an Olympic gold.”

Commenting on his famed rivalry with the Chinese five-time world champion Lin Dan, Lee says they were all very interesting and exciting encounters. “Well, the fans loved those games. Lin Dan is a very attacking player with a lot of power. Always a great experience to play against him,” he signs off after a long training session at the Gopi Chand Academy.