Can­cer-hit Lee Chong Wei eyes bad­minton re­turn, Olympic qual­i­fy­ing

Global Times - - SPORTS - Page Edi­tor: [email protected]­al­times.com.cn

Malaysia’s for­mer world No.1 Lee Chong Wei could re­turn to the bad­minton train­ing court within a fort­night af­ter fight­ing back from nose can­cer, an of­fi­cial told AFP on Thurs­day.

The three-time Olympic sil­ver medal­ist, who has spent nearly five months on the side­lines, is al­ready do­ing light fit­ness work af­ter re­ceiv­ing a clean bill of health from doc­tors, Malaysia’s bad­minton chief said.

“He sounded cheer­ful,” said Norza Za­karia, pres­i­dent of the Bad­minton As­so­ci­a­tion of Malaysia, af­ter speak­ing to Lee on the phone.

Norza also told the Star On­line, “I’m sure he will be ready by the time the Olympic qual­i­fy­ing pe­riod com­mences on May 1.”

Lee, now down at 15th in the Bad­minton World Fed­er­a­tion rank­ings, last played com­pet­i­tively at the In­done­sian Open in July.

Af­ter los­ing to world cham­pion Kento Mo­mota of Japan in the semi­fi­nals, he flew to Tai­wan for spe­cial­ist pro­ton ther­apy – where the can­cer is tar­geted with a beam of pro­tons – and chemo­ther­apy.

But last month Lee, 36, in­sisted he was not go­ing to hang up his racket.

“I want to come back to court,” he told a press con­fer­ence, adding, “As of now, I am not re­tir­ing.”

Lee also said he was tar­get­ing a com­pet­i­tive come­back at the All Eng­land Open in March, and was still ey­ing an elu­sive Olympic gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Games.

Lee’s un­suc­cess­ful at­tempts to cap­ture Malaysia’s first-ever Olympic gold medal at three con­sec­u­tive Sum­mer Games were fol­lowed avidly back home, as was his long-run­ning ri­valry with Chi­nese su­per­star Lin Dan.

His last shot at the Olympic ti­tle at Rio 2016 ended in a crush­ing fail­ure when the Malaysian lost out to China’s Chen Long in a nail-bit­ing fi­nal.

Nose can­cer is per­haps the big­gest blow suf­fered by Lee, who was banned af­ter test­ing pos­i­tive for a pro­scribed anti-in­flam­ma­tory at the 2014 world cham­pi­onships. Lee re­turned to the sport in 2015, af­ter au­thor­i­ties ac­cepted he took the drug in­ad­ver­tently.

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