(Championspk)Kuala Lumpur—Malaysia’s badminton star Lee Chong Wei won his 11th Malaysian Open title Sunday, a much-needed boost for his pursuit of a still-elusive Olympic gold medal.
Lee cruised to victory with a flurry of devastating smashes against world number one Chen Long from China, beating him 21-13, 21-8 in a match that lasted 42 minutes.
The world number four shuttler was in fine form for the Malaysian competition after suffering early exits in the All England Championships and India Open in March.
“Many critics have said that I should retire after some poor performances. But I know within myself that I am capable of still producing the goods at the highest level and this win was the proof of that,” said Lee, 33.
“I am happy to win another title here and this triumph certainly boosts my spirits ahead of the Olympics.”
Chen called Lee a role model for young Malaysian shuttlers and said he was happy to have qualified for the final.
“It is not easy for a player at his age to maintain a high-level performance year-in, year-out and you can see the crowd really appreciated that,” said Chen.
“I felt I played well, but it was my first time playing in this court and perhaps the drift was too strong.”
Lee had missed last year’s edition because of a suspension after testing positive for a banned anti-inflammatory substance at the world championships in Copenhagen in 2014.
But in April last year the Badminton World Federation said the former long-time world number one had “accidentally” ingested the substance and handed him an eight-month backdated ban, which effectively allowed him to resume his career.
Lee, one of Malaysia’s most popular sports stars, has repeatedly fallen short in his pursuit of the sport’s top prizes—the world and Olympic titles—despite reaching three world championship finals and two Olympic deciders.
But he has set his sights firmly on crowning his career by winning his first Olympic title in Rio de Janeir