World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei will be out for up to a month after tearing an ankle tendon at the Thomas Cup on Tuesday, seriously denting the Malaysian star’s bid for a first Olympic gold medal.
Lee landed awkwardly just moments into the first match of a group tie against Denmark and was taken to hospital for what was confirmed later as a torn ankle tendon as Malaysia lost 3-2 in Wuhan.
“He will be out for about three to four weeks,” said Tey Seu Bock, Malaysia’s singles coach, adding the player was to return early yesterday to Malaysia for another MRI scan.
In the evening tie, home favorites China romped to victory against Indonesia 5-0, with Lee’s archrival Lin Dan looking sharp against Simon Santoso, beating the world No. 9 21-10, 21-17.
“Our biggest enemy is not each other, but injury,” said world No. 2 Lin, who took gold ahead of Malaysia’s Lee at the Beijing Olympics four years ago.
“We are not so young anymore and in the future, injuries will happen more and more. We don’t have so much time left,” the 28-year-old Lin, the game’s most decorated player, said about his 29-year-old opponent.
Lin enjoyed rapturous support from a packed stadium, where spectators were also captivated by an epic match lasting more than an hour in the women’s Uber Cup between Taiwan and Thailand, nicked by Taiwan 21-19, 17-21, 26-24.
In the men’s Thomas Cup, China qualify with Indonesia from Group A for the knockout stages, with the top two teams from each of the three-team groups progressing. Despite losing the tie against Denmark, Malaysia have also advanced.
Malaysia’s 33rd-ranked Daren Liew gave his country a glimmer of hope after the Lee injury blow when he pulled off a surprise 21-15, 21-13 victory over world No. 13 Jan O Jorgensen, but Denmark were too strong in the doubles.
“I knew Lee was out so it gave me extra motivation to win for Malaysia,” Liew said.
In the other Thomas Cup ties, South Korea won a close encounter with Germany 3-2, with both nations going through to the knockouts, while Japan eased past Russia 5-0.
In the women’s Uber Cup, China also played Indonesia and made equally light work of their usually powerful opponents, 5-0.
World No. 1 Wang Yihan was charging to her team’s first win of the night before opponent Maria Febe Kusumastuti retired with a shoulder injury at 21-10, 11-3.
“I was so happy the crowd applauded the men and the women,” said Wang, who strutted around on the court next to Lin’s and punched the air after every point she won.
Both China and Indonesia go through to the next stage, joined by Japan and Denmark, who contested a tight tie that eventually went to Japan 3-2.
Reigning champions South Korea whipped Germany 5-0 to send a clear message to China that they would not renounce their crown easily. Taiwan beat Thailand 3-2.
There are eight qualifying teams from the group stages in each competition, with the quarter-finals scheduled for yesterday.
In the Thomas Cup, China were to play Malaysia, Japan face Indonesia, Denmark are up against Russia and South Korea take on Germany.
In the Uber Cup, Taiwan take on South Korea and Indonesia play Japan, while China play Germany and Thailand face Denmark.