New Delhi: World number 1 shuttler Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia on Saturday said Indian players have improved immensely over the years and added that "never" had five players from the country qualified for the quarter-finals of the India Open badminton tournament.
"Now the Indian players are playing well. You had five Indians in the men's quarter-finals here. Never before, right?," said Chong Wei. He applauded the national coach Pullela Gopichand's efforts and singled out Saina Nehwal and Parupalli Kashyap for special praise.
"India have improved a lot. They have a good coach in Gopichand, who won the All-England title. A lot of the players are good. Saina is very famous and also world number two.
Kashyap is a good player," said the Malaysian. Asked why China continues to rule world badminton, Chong Wei joked: "Because they have a lot of people in their country."
"India also has a lot of people and now a lot of good players. May be it's a culture in China. But India is coming up, as are Japan, Thailand and a lot of other countries."
Chong Wei admitted that not having an Olympic gold hurts and if he remained injury-free, he would try his best to win the yellow metal in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
"Olympic gold missing from CV, hurts; Yes, Olympic gold is my dream. I tried my best and two times - in 2008 and 2012 - I lost in the final. I'll try one more time in 2016 if I stay injury-free."
Asked how long is he planning to continue playing, the 30-year-old shuttler said: "I'd like to see how my condition is next year after the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games.
If I'm free of injuries, (I'd play) until 2016, one more Olympics.
"Next year, we have a lot of competitions - Commonwealth Games, Asian Games, World Championships and I know Thomas Cup is in India. Hope I can maintain my results and don't sustain injuries because you know injuries are very difficult to recover from and get back to court.