Lee Chong Wei diagnosed with nose cancer as Malaysian badminton ace is dealt another cruel blow
The 35-year-old is seeking treatment in Taiwan as poor form and ill health forced him to skip the world championships in August and the Asian Games in Jakarta
Malaysian badminton great Lee Chong Wei is battling nose cancer but is responding well to treatment, according to the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) who broke its silence after weeks of speculation about his poor form and health on Saturday.
In yet another unbelievably sad chapter in the life of the greatest shuttler never to have won a major, the 35-year-old three-time Olympic silver medallist has been a hot discussion among Malaysians, who were shocked by the latest revelation on one of the game’s superstars.
“In response to recent reports concerning Lee Chong Wei, BAM confirms that the player has been diagnosed with early stage nose cancer,” said BAM president Sri Norza Zakaria, in a statement released on Facebook.
“Chong Wei is currently in Taiwan seeking treatment and I am pleased to inform you that he is responding well to his treatment and is currently resting and recuperating among family and close friends. On behalf of Chong Wei, I would like to thank all Malaysians for your prayers and concern. Your support has been his source of strength and courage.
“We urge everyone to respect his privacy and that of his family. BAM is in constant contact with Chong Wei and we will offer any support we can to our legend.”
News of his cancer scare was circulated online from late Friday night with his friend Hishamuddin Abd Majid saying the badminton legend was actually battling “third stage nose cancer”.
“At the age of 35 years old, so fit and rich but suddenly having problems in breathing. Life is unpredictable. Hope he can survive and fight it. All pray for you,” said Majid in his Facebook post.
Reports have surfaced that Lee had travelled to Taiwan to seek medical treatment for a respiratory related disorder only to receive the bad news that he had been diagnosed with cancer.
Lee’s form this year has been patchy at best. Apart from winning his sixth gold medal at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in April, his form dipped and he did not compete at last month’s Asian Games in Jakarta despite being a former silver medallist in Guangzhou in 2010. The Malaysian, even at his peak, was always living in the shadow of great Chinese rival Lin Dan, losing to the mainlander at multiple World Championships and two Olympic finals. At Rio two years ago, Lee had to settle for second best again, going down to China’s Chen Long in the final despite beating Lin Dan in the semi-final.
His poor form this year is in stark contrast to the days when he rose to great heights, enjoying a reign as the world’s top-ranked badminton player without winning any of badminton’s two majors – the world championships or Olympics.
BAM announced in July that Lee would miss the World Championships in August (Nanjing) and the five-time Commonwealth Games medallist did not take part in the Asian Games in Jakarta – the first time since he won bronze in Doha in 2006. He has never won gold at the Asian Games.
Badminton is hugely popular in Malaysia and one of the few sports where the country’s athletes perform well at the highest levels.
Lee, currently ranked number four in the world, had said Rio would be his last Olympics.
Lee had fought his way back to the top of the rankings after returning from 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, but he bounced back strongly.
Additional reporting Agence France-Presse