Lee Chong Wei may be the top-ranked shuttler in the world, but his sole focus as of now is to win gold at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Chong Wei has missed out on the gold medal to China’s Lin Dan at the last two Olympics in 2008 and 2012.
This time, though, the 33-year-old is eager to capture his first-ever gold medal as he is unlikely to have another opportunity to do so.
“I never thought I’ll be back at No. 1 so fast … I was down at No. 182 when I competed at the US Open in June last year,” Chong Wei told The Star. “Being No. 1 or No. 2 doesn’t really make a difference to my chances at the Olympics … I was only looking to be in the top four previously.
“But it’s always good to be at the top. It’s an encouragement for myself and a sign that even at 34 I can still reach the top. I still need to prove that I’m still highly motivated and I want to do that by doing well in Rio … especially since this will be my fourth – and most likely last ever – Olympics.
“There are expectations on me to win the gold medal and I’m just preparing myself to be in the best condition by the time I’m there.”
Chong Wei, who has won four titles this year, pulled out of the Australian Open last week due to a muscle injury and made it clear that he won’t let anything ruin his chances of competing in the Olympics, where he will be Malaysia’s flag bearer.
The world number one added that with the Olympics fast approaching, he has to work on improving his fitness and develop a tougher mentality.
“I pulled out in Australia because I felt pain in my leg on the first day of practice there. With Rio in mind, I didn’t want to take any risks,” he said. “With just two months to go, there are only two more things for me to work on – my physical condition and mental toughness.
“Now that I’m No. 1 again, everyone will aiming to beat me and that will increase the pressure … I’ll need to be physically prepared and mentally strong enough to deal with all of that.
“I can’t rule out either (China’s) Chen Long or Lin Dan at the Olympics. They may have lost early in Superseries events but I’m sure they will be prepared to go all out in Rio. But I don’t want to be too distracted by all of it. I’m just looking to sleep well, eat well and prepare well for the next two months.”