Badminton: Lee could end frosty relations

Lee Chong Wei will be out for weeks after he slipped at the new Academy Badminton Malaysia last Saturday (Feb 4) and reportedly tore a medial collateral ligament in his left knee.
Lee Chong Wei will be out for weeks after he slipped at the new Academy Badminton Malaysia last Saturday (Feb 4) and reportedly tore a medial collateral ligament in his left knee.PHOTO: AFP

World No. 1 ready to quit BAM, saying he has lost patience with Danish technical director

KUALA LUMPUR • Lee Chong Wei was yesterday reportedly on the verge of cutting off his ties with the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) after relations became strained in the wake of the world No. 1's latest injury.

The 34-year-old will be out for weeks after he slipped at the new Academy Badminton Malaysia last Saturday, missing next month's prestigious All England Championship where he would have been gunning for a fourth title.

The silver medallist at the last three Olympics had complained to the association's technical director Morten Frost and general manager Lawrence Chew about the new centre's slippery court mats but said nothing had been done.

Lee, who has signalled he may retire this year, reportedly tore a medial collateral ligament in his left knee as he slipped and fell awkwardly.

The Malaysia team moved to their new national training centre in the Bukit Kiara suburb of Kuala Lumpur only a week ago.

Lee told AFP on Wednesday that the association's president had told him that his issues would be settled, without going into further details.

THE LAST STRAW

Instead of asking about my condition, he asked my coach whether I would retire… Why? Doesn't he want me to play on? I'm hurt. Now, I've lost my patience and I'm angry. If there's no solution, I'll quit BAM.

LEE CHONG WEI, Malaysian badminton star, on the way Badminton Association of Malaysia technical director Morten Frost handled his injury.

NO PROBLEM AT ALL

I don't have any comments. I've many things to think... So far I didn't receive any report about other players getting injured when using this court (except from Lee).

MORTEN FROST, on how Lee was the only one who has complained about the new training centre's court.

"I don't know. Let's see how it goes," Lee said when asked if he thought his complaints would be resolved.

Lee was also reported as saying by the Malaysian media that his often stormy relationship with Frost had now become strained to breaking point.

"I've lost my patience with Morten. This injury is the last straw," he was quoted as saying in The Star newspaper.

"What's even more hurtful was the way Morten handled my injury.

"Instead of asking about my condition, he asked my coach whether I would retire… Why? Doesn't he want me to play on? I'm hurt.

"Now, I've lost my patience and I'm angry. If there's no solution, I'll quit BAM."

Lee and Frost did not speak to each other despite meeting at the Academy Badminton Malaysia (ABM) on Wednesday morning.

"I don't have any comments. I've many things to think. About the court, I think you better ask Lawrence Chew," said Frost later. "So far I didn't receive any report about other players getting injured when using this court (except from Lee)."

Frost and Lee have had a stormy relationship since 2015, when they clashed after Frost reportedly did not allow coach Tey Seu Bock to accompany Lee to the Japan Open.

BAM deputy president Mohamad Norza Zakaria said Frost and Lee have been urged to set aside their differences and work together professionally.

"I do not want everything that has been achieved previously to go to waste because Chong Wei is an inspiration to all players, while Frost has his KPI (key performance indicator)," he said.

"Frost has a mission to position Malaysia in the world's top three as well as hunt for the country's first Olympic gold.

"I think we at BAM will discuss with him (Frost) because maybe how things are done in Europe differs from Asia and it could be a little harsh. However, we cannot be too Asian as well, because we want to be world class."

Lee, a three-time losing finalist at the World Championships, had said last month that he hoped to win this year's event in Scotland in August before retiring.

And Malaysia's Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said on Wednesday that the player will receive full support. "I've said it since the Olympics, as long as he wants to play, we will support him," he said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, BERNAMA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 10, 2017, with the headline 'Lee could end frosty relations'. Print Edition | Subscribe