8pm Malaysian time, 5th August 2012 — Malaysia came together to watch Datuk Lee Chong Wei take on his arch-nemesis, Lin Dan for the Olympic Gold Medal in the badminton men’s singles.
Four years ago, Datuk Lee was anihiliated in Beijing. In London, an avenging was on the cards.
An hour and thirty minutes later, our champ was slumped to his feet in defeat as he did in Beijing.
Datuk Lee, being a champion that he is, tweeted “I’m sorry”. You don’t have to be. You are a true Malaysian hero.
Malaysians all over the world clamoured to be in front of a screen to scenes of the nation’s flag being waved high and cries of, “Malaysia Boleh!” filling the Wembley Arena. Scenes of Datuk Lee determined to get Malaysia’s first ever Olympic gold medal must have melted the hearts of even the most hardcore conspiracy theorists that dismissed Datuk Lee’s efforts at the Olympics as a distraction tool to shift focus away from the country’s problems.
They couldn’t be more wrong.
In Datuk Lee, we were united. United in hopes and prayers that he would win gold, if not for Malaysia then for himself, for he deserves it. The hopes of badminton in Malaysia have rested on his shoulders for the longest time with the top men’s doubles pairing of Koo Kien Kiat and Tan Boon Heong proving to be nothing more than empty promises; not to mention the slow disappearance of our ladies shuttlers.
Carrying the entire nation on his back, Datuk Lee has stayed world number one for nearly 6 years, a feat most believe will never be emulated by another Malaysian anytime soon. Some say he cracks under pressure, but in truth he has nerves of steel many do not see. One cannot possibly imagine having to bear the pressure of millions of people placing their dreams on one man, but Datuk Lee has done it time and time again, in the Olympics, the Commonweatlh Games, the Thomas Cup, and the World Championships.
His determination and pain was clear to see in probably his last ever participation at the Olympics.
Malaysians took to the web to show their support and continuing adoration for Datuk Lee. There have been more than ten thousand retweets of his apology with consoling replies, while many others have posted the same sentiments on Facebook.
Even in defeat, Datuk Lee, you have done the nation proud.
So you don’t ever have to say sorry.