Malaysia’s coach has blamed an air conditioning cut-off for causing world No 1 Lee Chong Wei to cramp up and pull out of yet another heart-breaking badminton world final.
Chinese superstar Lin Dan took the title for a record fifth time on Sunday as his arch-rival retired with Lin on the brink of victory with the score at 16-21, 21-13, 20-17 in Guangzhou.
The rivalry between the two greats has headlined men’s singles for years but Lin has continually gotten the better of Lee in high-profile events, and Sunday’s episode adds to the list of world and Olympic finals defeats Lee has suffered at Lin’s hands.
National singles coach Tey Seu Bock lashed out over a decision to shut off the air conditioning during the second game of the final. The move followed earlier complaints that the venue was too drafty.
Lee was among those who mentioned the draft earlier in the tournament.
“A defeat is a defeat. I can accept it but I cannot tolerate the organisers switching off the air conditioner in the second game,” Tey was quoted by Malaysia’s The Star newspaper on Monday as saying.
He said Lee became dehydrated, causing him to suffer cramps.
“It was so hot inside... This is not right. The players were suffering. At one point, Chong Wei was struggling to breathe,” Tey said.
He also complained the tournament’s schedule gave Lee less rest before the final than Lin, the reigning world and Olympic champ.
Lee, 30, had hoped to become the first Malaysian badminton world champion and finally break the Lin hex.
Lin, 29, widely regarded as the game’s greatest player ever, had beaten Lee in the previous world singles final and the two last Olympic finals.
The Star headlines on Monday said Lee was “Second best again” and “China jinx hits Chong Wei again”, while the New Straits Times declared it a “Sad ending to his dream”.