Lee aims for March return

Malaysian veteran star Lee Chong Wei acknowledged at yesterday's press conference in Kuala Lumpur that while his dream was to play in the next Olympics, he might have to call it a day if he did not regain his health fully.
Malaysian veteran star Lee Chong Wei acknowledged at yesterday's press conference in Kuala Lumpur that while his dream was to play in the next Olympics, he might have to call it a day if he did not regain his health fully.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Ex-No. 1 shuttler recovering well from nose cancer treatment and has no plans to retire

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysian star Lee Chong Wei announced yesterday that he plans to return to badminton after successful treatment for nose cancer, insisting he had no intention of retiring.

The former world No. 1 said he could resume full training as early as next month and was targeting a competitive comeback at the All England Open in March.

"I finished all my treatment... and have recovered very well," a healthy-looking Lee told a press conference in Kuala Lumpur.

"I want to come back to court. I am not retiring. I love this sport and I want to be back soon, but how quickly I will return will depend on my condition."

The three-time Olympic silver medallist was making his first public appearance since his diagnosis was announced in September.

Lee, who returned from treatment in Taiwan last month, also said it was his "dream" to play at Tokyo 2020, which would be his fifth Olympics.

"I think qualifying (for the Tokyo Olympics) should be no problem for me," he said, but added that his health was his current priority.

"My doctors have advised me to take things slowly and I will listen to their advice... I have started some light training at home."

The 36-year-old did concede he may have to hang up his racket if his health does not improve enough.

Lee, who won gold at the Commonwealth Games in Australia this year, was diagnosed with early-stage nose cancer, forcing him to pull out of the Asian Games and World Championships.

The father of two added that when he found out about the illness, he was "crying for a week, couldn't eat, couldn't sleep".

On the advice of his doctors he travelled to Taiwan for treatment, during which he lost 5kg.

"This is the toughest period of my life," said Lee, who has slipped to eighth in the world rankings.

"But I had the support of my loved ones to continue fighting. "

Lee also explained that he underwent over 30 sessions of treatment at the hands of seven doctors.

He said they have given him a clean bill of health, and has regained 3kg since returning home.

Nose cancer has perhaps been the biggest blow suffered by Lee, who was banned after testing positive for a proscribed anti-inflammatory drug at the 2014 World Championships.

He returned to the sport in 2015, after authorities accepted that he took the drug inadvertently.

His last shot at Olympic gold, which would have been Malaysia's first, ended in failure at Rio 2016, when he lost to China's Chen Long in a nail-biting final.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 09, 2018, with the headline 'Lee aims for March return'. Print Edition | Subscribe