The day is July 29, 2015 – eve of the Perak Open Final. Lee Chong Wei is hooked to an IV drip on a hospital bed and was on painkillers. He had been in excruciating pain a few hours earlier due to food poisoning.
Chong Wei had just come out of his 8 months doping ban and was participating in the local tournament Perak Open. He had reached the final of the tournament. This time not in men’s singles but in the mixed doubles event. Yes, mixed doubles! He had partnered up with Vivian Hoo in the tournament as sort of an exhibition appearance.
Lying on the hospital bed in pain, the prospects of his final match the next day seemed grim.
His mobile phone rang. It was his partner Vivian.
Vivian said, “Big bro, heard of you hospitalized due to food poisoning. Please prioritize your health. I will tell the organizing committee we pull out from tomorrow’s final!”
The concern on Vivian’s voice for Chong Wei was very clear.
Chong Wei, being the big brother role model he is, was stubborn and not ready to throw in the towel. He said, “No, I am determined to play, unless the doctor advises me not to.”
Vivian was stunned at Chong Wei’s answer. After a pause, she said, “Big bro, if you really need to enter the court, please stay in front, let me do the running, covering you at the back.”
Chong Wei at that moment thought, “How can I disappoint her?”
The doctor, as everyone would expect, advised him to rest. And Chong Wei, as everyone would expect, showed up in the final the next day disregarding the doctor’s advice.
Vivian did a little more running than usual and covered for Lee Chong Wei. And they won the tournament.
Lee Chong Wei shared this story on Instagram to thank and give some moral support to Vivian Hoo who was recently outed from the national team of Malaysia.
Chong Wei wrote: “I just want to thank you for being a good role model for the team. I’m sure this is not the final curtain because I see there is still fire, talent, skill in you to play a good 3-4 years more, at the very top level. I believe in you!”