Shuttler Lee vows to return after cancer treatment

KUALA LUMPUR (BERNAMA, THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysian badminton star and former world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei has one message for his fans - he has no intention of hanging up his racket just yet.

The sport was left stunned on Saturday after the Badminton Association of Malaysia confirmed he was suffering from nose cancer.

While many sportsmen would have given up hope of making a comeback under such circumstances, the 35-year-old is optimistic that he can play competitively again.

"Wait for me. I'll return to the court. Don't forget me yet, I'm still here," the shuttler said in an encouraging voice message from Taiwan, where he is being treated.

The three-time Olympic silver medallist is expected to return to Malaysia in the coming weeks.

"I'll return soon. Thank you for all the concern and care shown to me during my two-month recovery. I'll say more when I come back."

Celebrities and netizens, including actor Alif Satar and Selangor princess Tengku Zatashah, have rallied behind Lee, leaving well-wishes and words of encouragement on his Instagram page.

Former Malaysia Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin also took to social media, posting a positive message: "GWS (get well soon), my friend. Beat this like you've beaten everyone on the court @leechongweiofficial."

Meanwhile, Malaysia's national coach Hendrawan has said he will wait for Lee to fully recover before discussing his badminton future.

The Indonesian, who has formed a close bond with Lee since his 2015 appointment, revealed that the gold medallist at this year's Gold Coast Commonwealth Games first felt something was wrong during the Indonesian Open in early July.

"I've never seen him so tired before. It was unlike him. Chong Wei left for home to find out what was wrong.

"When I returned home (on July 9), Chong Wei told me that he had something urgent to tell me.

"I was devastated but told him to get a second opinion. Chong Wei came back with a second opinion from another doctor two days later and it (cancer) was confirmed.

"We spoke about his treatment and Chong Wei found out that only a few countries have the best treatment for nose cancer and Taiwan is one of them.

"They have the best modern facilities there and most advanced medication.

"I'm so happy that his treatment is coming to an end. I'm looking forward to his return to Kuala Lumpur.

"Once he has recovered completely, Chong Wei and I will discuss his plans for the future."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 24, 2018, with the headline 'Shuttler Lee vows to return after cancer treatment'. Subscribe