Lee hopeful of comeback but health is his priority

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysian badminton star Lee Chong Wei says he is recovering well and hopes to make a comeback following treatment for nasal cancer in Taiwan.

The world No. 5 and three-time Olympic silver medallist also posted pictures on social media of himself and his wife smiling while holding their children to mark his 36th birthday on Sunday.

He returned to Malaysia on Oct 7 after treatment for early-stage nasal cancer in Taiwan, but he has since put public appearances on hold to focus on his recovery.

He told the New Straits Times: "My health is my main priority right now. The recovery process has been good but I still need rest.

"Once I am given the green light to make a comeback, I will.

"I thank everyone who (has) encouraged and stood by me in my most difficult time."

World No. 1 Kento Momota revealed his "respect" for Lee after winning the Denmark Open on Sunday by beating Chinese Taipei's Chou Tien-chen 22-20, 16-21, 21-16.

"I do hope (he) will recover and hope to see him return to competitive badminton to make men's singles interesting," said the Japanese.

A return to the sport would be a remarkable feat for Malaysia's best known sports star, who has already had to fight his way back up the world rankings after being hit with a doping ban in 2015.

He tested positive for a forbidden anti-inflammatory drug at the 2014 World Championships and many feared it would end his career.

The former world No. 1 last competed at the Indonesian Open in July. Later that month, the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) announced that he would not feature at this summer's World Championships and Asian Games, but declined to specify the illness.

Lee is feted at home despite his oft-lamented failure to win a world or Olympic title.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 24, 2018, with the headline 'Lee hopeful of comeback but health is his priority'. Print Edition | Subscribe