Olympics: 7 things about Malaysia's iconic shuttler Lee Chong Wei

Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei fell to China's Chen Long 21-18, 21-18.
Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei fell to China's Chen Long 21-18, 21-18.PHOTO: AFP
Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia falling to his knees after beating Lin Dan of China during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games badminton men's semi-final on Aug 19, 2016.
Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia falling to his knees after beating Lin Dan of China during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games badminton men's semi-final on Aug 19, 2016.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Malaysia shuttler Lee Chong Wei won his third Olympic silver medal at the Rio Olympics - a swansong for the 32-year-old.

He fell 18-21, 18-21 to China's Chen Long in the final on Saturday night (Singapore time), in what was his third straight loss in the Olympic final.

Here are seven things about the world-beating badminton player:

1. He started with basketball

Lee's badminton career would not have taken off without the intervention of his mother. As a child, Lee's preferred sport was basketball.

But his mother Khor Kim Choi disliked the idea of her son playing outdoors in the searing heat.

At 10, he picked up badminton, after father Lee Ah Chai took him to a badminton hall. The rest, as they say, is history.

2. Olympic medals and other honours

Before the Rio Games silver medal, Lee had won two silvers at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and the London 2012 Games.

With medals from three consecutive Games, he is Malaysia's most successful athlete at the Olympics.

Since Lee made his professional debut in 2000, he has won countless titles, including the Badminton World Federation (BWF) Super Series Masters Finals and the prestigious All England Open.

3. Doping scandal

 Lee Chong Wei training for the 2016 Rio Olympics in Kuala Lumpur. PHOTO: AFP

In 2014, he tested positive for dexamethasone, a widely administered anti-inflammatory used to treat asthma and altitude sickness, at the world championships.

He was provisionally suspended in November that year and faced a career-ending ban but the Badminton World Federation controversially handed him a back-dated eight-month suspension that allowed him to return to competition a few days after the judgment.

Lee had argued that he received dexamethasone during stem cell treatment for a thigh injury and that it gave him no playing advantage.

4. Climb back up rankings

Due to the suspension, Lee dropped to No. 180 in world rankings, but just before the Games, he rose back to world No. 1, knocking China's Chen Long to second place.

5. Rivalry with Lin Dan

His time at the pinnacle of the sport was marked by his epic battles with China's Lin Dan. The 31-year-old, nicknamed Super Dan, is widely considered the best player of his generation.

The Chinese seldom tops the world rankings as he is selective about the tournaments he plays. But he holds a superior 23-11 head-to-head record against Lee, including two consecutive Olympic final victories (2008, 2012).

Lee finally avenged the losses at the semi-final of the 2016 Olympics where he beat Lin 15-21, 21-11, 22-20.

He also beat Lin at the China Open in November last year and the Badminton Asia Championships in China in April.

6. Datukship

Lee was conferred the Darjah Setia Pangkuan Negeri (DSPN) by the state of Penang in August 2008, shortly after clinching a men's singles silver medal at the Olympics in Beijing then.

The DSPN is awarded to individuals who have contributed remarkable and outstanding services to the state, and is limited to 800 living persons. It carries the title Datuk, and comes with lifetime pension payments of RM3,000 ($1,161) a month.

7. Personal life

Malaysian shuttler Lee Chong Wei, his wife, Wong Mew Choo and their two sons. SCREENGRAB: VIMEO

In 2012, Lee married team-mate and childhood sweetheart Wong Mew Choo, whom he first met at a training camp in 2001, when both were still reserve players in the national team.

While not as successful as her husband, Wong has two team golds and two individual silvers at the Commonwealth Games.

The pair admitted their relationship had been "on-off", marred by a public break-up in 2009 amid speculation that Lee was seeing South Korean player Hwang Hye Youn.

They patched up a year later, denying the allegations, and tied the knot over a two-day dinner celebration at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.

The dinner was attended by several VIPs, including Malaysian ministers Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein and Koh Tsu Koon.

The couple welcomed their first child - son Kingston - in August 2013. Their second boy, Terrance, was born in July last year.