BEIJING, (AFP) – Lee Chong Wei steamrolled Indonesia’s Sony Dwi Kuncoro Thursday to reach the Olympic badminton men’s semi-finals and keep Malaysia’s hopes alive of winning its first ever gold medal.
With Malaysia’s doubles stars, and Lee’s girlfriend Wong Mew Choo crashing out of these Games, Lee is the nation’s last remaining hope in badminton and its strongest chance of winning its first gold in any sport.
Lee, ranked second in the world, played down his 21-9, 21-11 quarter-final victory over the Indonesian, achieved with a mixture of delicate drop shots and airborne attacks, saying the Athens bronze medallist had been nervous.
Lee was also circumspect about his chances of causing an upset over China to clinch gold, saying although he had beaten their three players before, they were enjoying a home ground advantage.
“Maybe it’s too tough for me but I’ll try,” he said of possibly reaching the final where, barring a major upset, he would meet world number one Lin Dan.
“The loss of the other Malaysian players made me a little upset but I need to concentrate on the men’s singles and try to get to the final.”
China are gunning for a clean sweep of all five golds with the men’s singles firmly in their sights after failing to clinch the coveted title in Athens.
Lee meets the winner of the quarter-final clash between China’s third seed Bao Chunlai and South Korean champion Lee Hyunil to be played later Thursday.
China’s fourth seed Chen Jin thumped Taiwan’s Hsieh Yu-Hsing, ranked just 46 in the world, to move into the semi-finals.
Chen, the All England champion, raced to a 14-4 lead and conceded just four more points on his way to wrapping up the first game.
Unseeded Hsieh offered more resistance in the second game, but Chen was never in trouble, and quickly killed off a one-sided affair 21-14.
“He was in good shape and played very well. I was too slow to catch up in the beginning of the second game,” Chen said.
Chen faces a semi-final showdown with the winner of the clash between Europe’s last remaining player, Denmark veteran Peter Gade, and top seed Lin, played later Thursday.