IT was a magical moment at the Wembley Arena yesterday but it did not belong to Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei.
Yesterday, China’s superstar Lin Dan shattered Chong Wei’s dream of becoming Malaysia’s first world champion when he came from behind twice in the decider to troop home with a sensational 20-22, 21-14, 23-21 win in an adrenaline-pumping, one-hour-and-22 minute men’s singles final.
The 29-year-old Chong Wei had held the upper hand at 16-12 and 20-18 in the decider in the dream final of the World Championships between the two greatest men’s singles players but luck deserted him at the crucial state.
And to add misery to his agonising defeat, Chong Wei, who put up a sombre face during the victory ceremony, rushed out with cramps on both his legs and was lying in a corner with tears in his eyes.
Dejected: Lee Chong Wei making a call back stage after his loss to Lin Dan in the final.
It was truly a sad end for Chong Wei, who had been so convincing and confident in his play throughout the week, sparking a great hope for Malaysia to produce a first winner since the tournament’s inception in 1977.
On Saturday, he had reached his first final in his sixth attempt in the world meet to become only the second Malaysian after Wong Choong Hann to do so.
After a good rub-down, Chong Wei said that he was disappointed with the outcome but vowed to move forward – with his focus on next year’s Olympic Games.
“I had two chances to end the game but it did not happen for me ... Lin Dan took a great gamble at the crucial stage and I was quite unlucky,” said Chong Wei.
“I gave my all. This is my best and closest match against Lin Dan. It hurts to lose by two points in this manner.
“I may have lost to him but I showed that nothing much separates us. I made some mistakes today but I will be ready for him the next time.
“I am still happy with my achievement of reaching my first final here. It has been a good season. I have reached every final since the start of this year.
“I will shift my attention to the Olympic Games. It is 11 months away and I want to better prepared.
And he gave the Malaysian fans some good news: “I may have lost the opportunity to become the country’s first champion but I am coming back. I will be back in 2013 to get it right,” added Chong Wei, who left for home yesterday.
It started with three quick easy points for Chong Wei following Lin Dan’s unusual poor service return shots.
Then, the real battle began with Chong Wei and Lin Dan trying to outfox each other with their blistering pace, punishing smashes, unbelievable netplays and incredible retrieves.
The Malaysian stayed ahead to take a 20-18 lead but Lin Dan was always dangerously snapping at his heels. Lin Dan’s brilliance at the net saw him levelling at 20-20 but a quick recovery saw the Malaysian taking the first game at 22-20.
The second game went on in the same fashion but this time, Lin Dan dictated the pace until 11-9. A brief nervy spell by a slower Chong Wei saw Lin Dan taking a 17-10 lead and eventually forcing a rubber game with a 21-14 win.
Both came back recharged and determined to outdo each other and what a fight it was.
The decider was a thriller with both displaying class and quality but it was Lin Dan who had a better finish to nick his fourth world title to emerge as the world’s greatest player.