WONG Choong Hann (C) poses with Hishammuddin Tun Hussein (R), upon his arrival from England at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang. Aug 6. - Bernamapix.
SEPANG Aug 6 - Even though he failed to win the 13th World Badminton Championships in Birmingham, England, singles runner-up Wong Choong Hann was given a hero's welcome at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport here Wednesday.
He was greeted upon arrival at 7.30 am by Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Hishammuddin Tun Hussein, Ministry Deputy Secretary-General Datuk Talaat Husain, Badminton Association of Malaysia vice-president Datuk Roland Wong, singles coach Misbun Sidek and doubles coach Cheah Soon Kit.
Also at the VIP lounge to celebrate his return were his parents, Low Siew Har and Wong Sew Pin, as well as his grandmother, Yip Ah Fah, and some 50 students of the Badminton Academy.
At a press conference, Choong Hann said his participation in the world championships was his personal best, as he managed to qualify for the final but was very disappointed not to have won.
"It has become my inspiration in preparation for other championships, especially to participate in the Olympic Games," he said.
Before he can think of the Olympics in Athens, Greece, next year, Choong Hann is scheduled to compete in the singles at the Singapore, Malaysian and Indonesian Open championships.
"The participation is to enable me to qualify for the Olympic Games. I will also give my best in the Thomas Cup," he said.
On his next possible meeting with the World champion, China's Xia Xuanze, Choong Hann said he would use a video recording of their match to improve his game and learn about his opponent, specifically in terms of technique.
Choong Hann said he was upset that he did not manage to beat Xuanze, especially in the rubber set. The Chinese had led 5-4 but Choong Hann closed the gap at 5-5.
Xuanze, who read his opponent well, then dominated the game to end their rubber set 15-6, thus winning 15-6, 13-15, 15-6.
"It was a mental challenge. I feel a bit disappointed but it is an experience and a new lesson for me," he said on his failure to beat Xuanze in all their eight matches so far, since 1999.
Meanwhile, Misbun said careful preparations needed to be made, not just for the near future but for next year.
"What is important is deeper evaluation from now on, including the strength of existing foreign players, to win in the Olympics," he said.
He said if the pattern and quality of the foreign players were not evaluated, Malaysia's shuttlers would not succeed.
"The shuttlers need to determine for themselves, how far they want to go. They must know what they want. The priority is to get points to qualify for the Olympic Games," he said.
Earlier Story Saturday, 2 August, 2003
Wong strolls into final
Wong Choon Hann made quick work of his South Korean opponent
Wong Choon Hann became the first Malaysian player to reach the men's singles final at the World Badminton Championships when he beat Shon Seung-Mo 15-4 15-5.
The South Korean 13th seed looked jaded after his epic quarter-final victory over world number one Chen Hong on Friday.
He offered little resistance against Wong and the match lasted just 47 minutes.
"I think he was kind of exhausted from yesterday's match and his legs were giving him a bit of a problem," said Wong, who is the ninth seed in the tournament.
"He was not moving that fluently. When I did some cross-court shots he was not able to retrieve that well."
"The good work is not yet finished," said Wong.
"There is one match to go and I will give it my very best shot."
He will face fifth seed and 2000 champion Xia Xuanze who beat Chinese compatriot Bao Chunlai 15-11 15-7.