Malaysian Lee’s regrets as Chen grabs gold

TEARS OF JOY: China's Chen Long weeps after defeating Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei to win the during the men's badminton singles gold medal match on Saturday. (AP)
Updated 20 August 2016

Malaysian Lee’s regrets as Chen grabs gold

RIO DE JANEIRO: Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei lamented a third consecutive Olympic final defeat on Saturday after China’s Chen Long beat the world number one in straight games for men’s badminton singles gold.
“Today leaves me with some regrets,” said Lee, putting on a brave face following his 21-18, 21-18 defeat to second-ranked Chen, who became Olympic champion for the first time.
“I went into the finals in three Olympics and came away with three silver medals.
“For me, for Malaysia, for the fans, I think we all hoped we could win the gold. I did my best but my opponent played better,” the 33-year-old added graciously.
Despite being one of the sport’s most accomplished players, the Malaysian has never won a world or Olympic title and will retire without that elusive gold medal.
“This was my last Olympics,” Lee said, but added that he wasn’t able to think about when he will lay down his racquet for good so soon after another heartbreaking defeat.
“I can’t think so much right now but this will be my last Olympics,” said the shuttler.
It was a first gold medal for London 2012 bronze medallist Chen. He took an early 11-8 lead in what turned out to be the deciding game before stretching his hold over Lee to 20-15.
There was no way back for the quiet Lee and Chen celebrated by running with his shirt off to the Chinese fans at the Riocentro venue after inflicting more Olympic heartache on the Malaysian.
Lee lost the previous two finals at the Olympic Games, in Beijing and London, to Chinese arch-rival and badminton superstar Lin Dan.
He fought his way back to the top of the rankings after returning from a doping ban last year for a final shot at Olympic glory.
Lee finally overcame his nemesis Lin in their last-four clash in Brazil and the end of the Rio Games brings the curtain down on their Olympic rivalry.
But Lee said he wished it could have finished differently.
“It’s the fourth Olympics for both of us and we have played against each other so many times.
“After beating Lin Dan I wasn’t that happy because I could really see our match being the big final.
“I think this will definitely be the last competition for both of us,” Lee added.
His defeat meant Malaysia’s hunt for a first Olympic gold in any sport continues.
“We still need a gold medal and I hope in 2020 in Tokyo we can achieve that,” said Lee, who added that he had no words for the Malaysian people following his loss.
World number two Chen said he had been determined to ensure that the men’s singles title stayed with China after Lin was dumped out by Lee.
“The key here was that a Chinese man won badminton gold. It was a little bit unexpected for me but all the hard work has paid off,” he told reporters.
Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen defeated Lin 15-21, 21-10, 21-17 to claim bronze.


Dakar Rally stars gear up for ‘thrilling’ Saudi race challenge

The first stage of Rally Qassim began in Umm Sidra covering a distance of 170km. Several drivers are keen to test before the Dakar Rally crosses the country for the first time in January 2020. (SPA)
Updated 19 October 2019

Dakar Rally stars gear up for ‘thrilling’ Saudi race challenge

  • French driver Stéphane Peterhansel, a 13-time winner of the Dakar Rally, revealed that he was initially surprised to hear that the competition had been moved from Africa to Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: Dakar Rally drivers are gearing up for a “thrilling and exciting” challenge when the world-famous desert race is staged in Saudi Arabia for the first time next year.
The Kingdom will host the event from Jan. 5 to 17, 2020 with top racers from around the globe traveling thousands of kilometers through inhospitable terrain in cars, trucks and on quad bikes and motorcycles.
The rally will begin in Jeddah and follow a tough route through desert, sand dunes and mountainous areas taking in NEOM, the Red Sea Project, Riyadh and Qiddiya.
French driver Stéphane Peterhansel, a 13-time winner of the Dakar Rally, revealed that he was initially surprised to hear that the competition had been moved from Africa to Saudi Arabia.
“However, after doing some research, I realized that Saudi Arabia was a very wonderful and suitable country for the rally. It has different terrain types, and I expect us to have a perfect track. The vast desert gives me hope that the 2020 Saudi Dakar Rally will be more thrilling and exciting than Africa,” he said.
Five-time Dakar Rally winner and fellow French driver, Cyril Despres, said that racing in Saudi Arabia would be a new adventure that could only be experienced by those who lived up to its challenges.
“When I heard that the Dakar Rally was moving for the first time to the Middle East, I remembered the words of its founder, Thierry Sabine, who said that if you liked exploring the African continent, you would also love exploring other parts of the world,” he added.

Positive move
British rally raid motorcycle rider, Sam Sunderland, who won his category in the 2017 Dakar Rally, said he was delighted to be participating in the Saudi race. “I believe that this change is good, as I have lived in Dubai for 10 years, having adapted well to the Middle East’s atmosphere.

When I heard that the Dakar Rally was moving for the first time to the Middle East, I remembered the words of its founder, Thierry Sabine, who said that if you liked exploring the African Continent, you would also love exploring other parts of the world.

Cyril Despres, French driver

“Exploring a new area is a positive move for the Dakar Rally, and I am certain that everyone who practices this sport is excited to explore a new ground for racing,” Sunderland added.
ED Racing Team driver, Issa Al-Dossari, said the main reason he had taken part in Rally Qassim was to prepare for the Dakar challenge.
“We will be using two cars in the rally. We look forward to raising the level of preparedness for many coming global events. But this does not mean that we will not compete for the top places.”
Al-Dossari invited sports fans to visit the team’s headquarters at Date City to see equipment and meet its members.
The team must participate in two different cars, the first driven by Al-Dossari with his French navigator Sébastien Delaunay, and the second with Emirati Abdallah Al-Huraiz behind the wheel and Ali Hassan navigating.
The first stage of Rally Qassim began on Friday in Umm Sidra covering a distance of 170 km, with stage two raced over 200 km.
Meanwhile, entry registrations for the Dakar Rally are still open in all categories at https://www.dakar.com/en/the-competitors/register.