Malaysian star Lee Chong Wei on Thursday said he plans to return to badminton after successful treatment for nose cancer, insisting he had no intention of retiring. The ex-world number one said he could resume training as early as next month and was targeting a competitive comeback at the All England Open in March.
“I finished all my treatment... and have recovered very well,” a cheerful and a healthy-looking Lee, 36, told a press conference in Kuala Lumpur. “I want to come back to court,” he said, adding: “As of now, I am not retiring.” The three-time Olympic silver medallist was making his first public appearance since his shock diagnosis was announced in September.
Lee, who returned from treatment in Taiwan last month, said it was his “dream” to play in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which would be his fifth Summer Games. “This is my dream. But health is most important,” he said, adding: “I just try my very best because I love my country... and I love badminton.” Lee, who enjoys superstar status in Malaysia, was diagnosed with early-stage nose cancer, forcing him to pull out of the Asian Games and world championships.
On the advice of his doctors, he travelled to Taiwan for treatment during which he lost five kilos (11 pounds). He returned to Malaysia a month ago. “This is a time that is very tough for me,” said Lee, who has slipped to eighth in the world rankings.
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.