Lee Chong Wei aims for Tokyo Olympics despite cancer diagnosis as badminton star vows not to quit at press conference
- Former world No 1 wants to return to court when doctors give him green light
- The 36-year-old Malaysian hopes to compete at his fifth Olympics in 2020
Cancer-stricken Malaysian shuttler Lee Chong Wei has said he intends to compete at the Tokyo Olympics if doctors give him the green light, after making his first public appearance since revealing his diagnosis.
Speaking in front of a packed news conference in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday, the former world No 1 said he wants to continue playing at the highest level and that his love for the sport has not diminished despite being diagnosed with first-stage nasal cancer in the summer.
“I still want to go to Tokyo [for the Olympics]. Qualifying for my fifth Olympics will not be an issue,” said Lee, who appeared in high spirits after receiving treatment in Taiwan recently.
“I definitely don’t intend to retire yet. I still love badminton and that’s why I’m not ready to hang up my racquet yet,” he said, hinting that he might return to action next month.
A three-time Olympic silver medallist, Lee has yet to win a major after living in the shadow of arch nemesis Lin Dan for years.
Lee appeared in the Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio finals, losing to Lin in the first two Olympic finals before settling for silver again in Rio two years ago against China’s Chen Long. Lee has also been runner-up three times at the world championships in 2011, 2013 and 2015.
The 36-year-old said he would give himself “plenty of time” before returning to court to resume training and that his desire to finally win gold at the Olympics has not faded.
“I will take my time before coming back to court. I’m waiting for the green light from the doctor,” he said.
Lee said returning to court will depend on his recovery but the Malaysian was in a positive frame of mind after getting a clean bill of health.
“I just got back from Taiwan to finish my treatment and my doctor said I’m recovering well,” Lee said. “I know the whole world wants to know whether I want to come back to court or whether I want to retire. I had discussed this with my doctor and I just want to say that I will come back to court soon, but not so fast. I must listen to my doctor. I have to do it slowly.”
It was the first time Lee, one of Malaysia’s greatest athletes, spoke in depth about his future plans since he was diagnosed with cancer in Taiwan in July.
Despite his illness, the six-time Commonwealth Games singles champion has been quietly working on his fitness in the hopes of returning to court.
Last month, he underwent successful treatment and according to the China Press of Malaysia, his treatment had gone well.
“Lee has finished his treatment and the result is very good. All the cancer cells disappeared and he has fully recovered from the disease,” the newspaper said.