KUALA LUMPUR: Eleven years ago, she was 17 going on 18 and he was 18 going on 19. Both were just on the threshold of their careers. Now, both are successful adults who have achieved outstanding feats.
World No. 1 men’s badminton player Datuk Lee Chong Wei and his soon-to-be bride, former national singles shuttler Wong Mew Choo, were brought together by their love and passion for badminton.
They met in 2001 at a national badminton camp here when they were both back-up shuttlers for the Malaysian squad.
During the time, little did they know how their love for the game would intertwine them on a journey of a lifetime together.
“I’ve known Mew Choo since my junior days and we’ve had our ups and downs over the last 11 years.
“Of course, there have been misunderstandings but she has always stood by me.
“She knew me and liked me even when I was a nobody and she has not changed.
“She has waited for me for a long time and I decided it was time to marry her. She is one patient woman and I like that quality in her,” said Chong Wei.
As for Ipoh-born Mew Choo, she wanted to marry Chong Wei because of “his sincerity”.
Their relationship was not always a bed of roses. It was marred by a break-up as well as controversial rumours involving Chong Wei.
When the couple announced that they had ended their courtship in 2009, the media speculated that it was due to Chong Wei’s affair with a South Korean player, Hwang Hye-youn. (Chong Wei was undergoing training in South Korea that year).
The two-time All England champion had also been linked to China’s singles player Wang Lin.
According to Chong Wei, he and Mew Choo patched up a year after the break-up and the bond had since grown stronger.
“It is normal in a relationship to go through difficult times but I do not want such issues to affect my career or our relationship,” said Chong Wei.
His brother, Lee Chong Hoon, said as far as he knew, Chong Wei did not have any other woman in his life except for Mew Choo.
“My mother is very happy and the whole family is excited about the wedding because they (Chong Wei and Mew Choo) will be united after all these years.”
When Chong Wei finally announced last month that he would be marrying his longtime girlfriend, many from the sports fraternity were not surprised.
It was probably because a few months back Mew Choo was seen and photographed walking with Chong Wei’s mother during the London Olympic Games.
The fact that Chong Wei wanted her to be there during his most important match was a strong sign that she was not just an ordinary friend.
The wedding, which will undoubtedly be the nation’s wedding of the year, will include a two-day dinner celebration, on Nov 9 and 10 at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.
The first night is reserved for VIPs, who include ministers and corporate leaders while the second night is for family members and close friends of the couple.
Those who have so far confirmed their attendance are Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and family, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai and Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
The lovebirds will be donning five to six outfits designed by Daniel Tang and Leslie Lee of DH Fashion bridal house, which is also the main sponsor of the event.
“It is going to be my first time wearing something so fashionable, tak biasalah (I am not used to it).
“I actually prefer something simpler,” said Chong Wei, who admitted that he was feeling a bit jittery now that the big day was nearing.
Mew Choo who was by his side during the interview quickly assured him that he would look very handsome in suits.
“Shuai (handsome in Chinese). Of course he looks handsome in suits but he is special to me no matter what he wears,” said Mew Choo.
So, does Chong Wei prefer Mew Choo in sports attire or ball gowns?
“I like the Mew Choo in sports attire better. That is the Mew Choo I have known all this while,” quipped the 30-year-old.
The couple have also listed six best men and six bridesmaids for the wedding who include top national doubles players Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong.
According to Chong Wei, he has no plans to retire from badminton after the wedding.
“I will keep playing as long as I am fit and free of injury.
“Now I’m on a 10-day break from practice to get ready for the wedding. I will skip the China Open but I will play in Hong Kong and Macau.”
The Hong Kong Open will be held a week after the wedding while the Macau Open is scheduled the week after that.
The 29-year-old Mew Choo, who quit her post as Bukit Jalil Sports School coach last month, would help him to manage his company, Chong Wei Binajaya Sdn Bhd, revealed Chong Wei.
He said that they planned to honeymoon either in New Zealand, the Maldives or the United States.
“We’ll probably go on honeymoon after the tournaments. I kena hutang dululah dengan dia (The honeymoon will be a debt to her for now.) But I know she understands my busy schedule.”
When asked about having children, Chong Wei answered: “Of course we want to have kids, we will try our best, but at the same time we don’t want to pressure ourselves.” Bernama