KUALA LUMPUR • Five months after Malaysian badminton officials announced that Lee Chong Wei had been diagnosed with early-stage nose cancer, the shuttler stated he was aiming to return to competitive action by April, in time to defend his Malaysia Open title.
Speaking after a training session yesterday, the badminton great revealed he would gradually intensify his training regimen in preparation for the tournament, but would wait for his doctor's approval before resuming full training.
Lee has not played since his semi-final exit at the Indonesian Open last July but, after undergoing 33 sessions of proton therapy treatment in Taiwan, followed by a period of rehabilitation, he is close to returning to "normal fitness".
The 36-year-old said: "So far, I'm okay on court and at the gym. What is important is to build muscle and my feeling on court. So far, everything is okay, maybe in one or two weeks, I'll be back.
"That is important for me now. I spent one hour and 15 minutes on court and another hour in the gym. Now I will rest and be back on Wednesday.
"I must push myself slowly and, when the doctor gives me the green light, I will do my full training."
The former world No. 1 has mainly focused on his conditioning, doing gym work three times a week, but the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) is ready to facilitate his desire for a step-up in intensity.
BAM coaching director Wong Choong Hann told reporters: "Chong Wei will try his best to follow the daily training routine.
"He has not followed a programme 100 per cent yet, but he understands his body and recovery rate better than any of us.
"He is like his own coach, so we'll give him space."
Adding that the training intensity would be tailored to Lee's progress and would include time at the gym, court practice and skill workouts, he said: "All of us, including Chong Wei, are hoping to follow the complete training programme, but we must assess the situation from time to time."
Wong also confirmed the BAM would submit Lee for the Malaysia Open before the entry list closes, but whether the 12-time winner gets to play in the event is subject to his doctor's permission.