Lee Chong Wei gets one back on rival Chen Long at Badminton World Federation awards
The 34-year-old wins best male player of the year despite falling short in Rio, while doubles pair Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi take the women’s crown
Lee Chong Wei scored a consolation prize to round off 2016 with the Malaysian preferred over Olympic champion Chen Long of China for the year’s best male player by the Badminton World Federation.
34-year-old Lee had to settle for his third consecutive Olympic singles silver medal after losing to Chen in the Rio Games, but beat four other nominees to win the honour at Tuesday’s presentation in Dubai.
The other candidates were Jan O Jorgensen (Denmark), Zhang Nan/Fu Haifeng (China) and Goh V Shem/Tan Wee Kiong (Malaysia).
Despite his failure in Rio, Lee proved he is still the one of the best after capturing three of the year’s superseries titles in Japan, Indonesia and Malaysia and the most number of titles among his counterparts.
In the women’s category, Olympic champion Carolina Marin of Spain was not on the nomination list after failing to secure even one of the 12 superseries titles this year.
Rio doubles champions Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi of Japan, also with four superseries titles under their belt, were crowned the award.
Chen, who turned down the wild card to play in the superseries finals in Dubai, failed to maintain his form throughout the year.
His defeat in the Thomas Cup semi-finals by Son Wan Ho of South Korea in May remains his biggest failure of 2016.
Up-and-coming Chen Qingchen of China won most promising player of the year after the 19-year-old from Guangdong won four doubles superseries titles – two in the women’s and two in the mixed.
The presentation, however, was not all about competition. With players turning up at their most stylish at the gala, there were awards for the best-dressed players which were won by Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen (male) and Woon Khe Wei of Malaysia (female).