There is a big possibility Datuk Lee Chong Wei will have to bring the curtains down on a successful badminton career, after it is learnt the shuttler is suffering from serious health problems that would rule him out from playing competitively anymore.
Lee had to pull out from both the upcoming World Championships in Nanjing, China (July 30-August 5) and Asian Games (August 19-28) in Indonesia due to respiratory problems.
It is learnt the world number two is currently in Taiwan for treatment.
But if Lee needed any motivation to beat this health problem and make a comeback at 36, he just needs to reflect on three big moments of his career.
That comeback against Lin Dan to win Malaysia Open
This is still being dubbed the greatest comeback in the sport. It was the 2006 Malaysia Open final in Kuching, and Lee was up against a formidable Lin Dan who topped the world rankings then. Lee won the first match 21-18, and Lin Dan won the second with the same score. The Chinese ace looked a sure bet to win the decider at match point 20-13. But roared on by an encouraging crowd, Lee fought back. The Malaysian recovered eight points to force the match to deuce, before winning it 23-21. Lin Dan couldn’t believe it. Lee couldn’t either. As the late Hasbullah Awang described it, “There is magic in badminton, there is magic in Chong Wei”. His comeback went on to inspire the self-titled movie ‘Lee Chong Wei’ released this year.
Recovering from a doping ban to dominate badminton
This was one of the biggest setbacks in Lee’s career. After losing in a heartbreaking World Championship final to Chen Long in 2014, Lee was dealt a bigger blow when he was tested positive for taking the banned substance dexamethasone. After confirming the result through two samples, the shuttler was found guilty and handed a backdated eight-month ban in April 2015. At 33, it would have been easy for any athlete to just call it quits. Not Lee. He stuck it out, and had to work his way up from the bottom again. He did it with some style too, recovering from a world ranking of 180 due to inactivity, to take back the world number one spot and it was business as usual.
Performing at optimum level at 36
Only Denmark’s Mathias Boe (38) and South Korea’s men singles Lee Hyun-il (38) are older than Lee on the competitive badminton trail. But if you’re talking about winning titles at an advance age, then Lee wins hands down. Before this health issue came about, Lee was playing as if he was a decade younger. Only last month, he tamed rising Japanese star Kento Momota in straight games to clinch a 12th Malaysia Open title. After beating his opponent 13-years his junior, Lee said he wants to play ‘in another two Malaysia Open’. He also said he wished to play at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. So, beat this and come back stronger Lee. Every Malaysian wants to see you back on court again.
Photo Credit: BAM