Defiant Chong Wei eyes 2020 Olympics

Lee Chong Wei

The sense of relief was apparent on Datuk Lee Chong Wei’s face after informing the media he is cancer-free.

The former world No 1 was all smiles and joked with those present as he announced he is targeting a return to the court for next year’s All England Open – if his health permits – and eventually the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Lee was diagnosed with early-stage nose cancer in July and has been receiving treatment in Taiwan ever since.

Around 100 media personnel – local and foreign – crowded round Akademi Badminton Malaysia waiting for Lee to appear.

Some came as early as 9am even though the press conference was only scheduled to start at 2.30pm.

The air was tense as many were bracing for the bad news that Malaysia’s most successful badminton player would call it quits.

Many swapped stories about their favourite Lee moments from winning his first Malaysian Open title to his last in July which was a record-extending 12th Malaysian Open title.

Lee was calmness personified as he walked into the room, dressed in a Yonex tracksuit, stopping occasionally to shake hands with well-wishers.

As he took his seat it was obvious to those in the hall it was going to be good news and some tension disappeared.

After Badminton Association of Malaysia president Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria’s opening speech, it was Lee’s turn to speak.

After his announcement, the questions and pictures came firing in and Lee took each one without hesitation.

He explained his treatment and how he had to undergo 33 proton therapy sessions lasting 25 minutes each.

Some in the media winced when he showed his “burnt neck” as a result of the treatment. He even joked “I’m not so handsome now” which drew plenty of laughter.

Once all the formalities were done, he posed for more pictures before taking his leave.

We will know by early next year if the comeback is a go.

For now, it is just weight and fitness training and making sure Lee gets back to 100 per cent before he resumes on-court training.

And if Lee goes on to win the gold medal at the 2020 Olympics, it would be the perfect sequel to his 2017 biopic Rise of the legend.