Malaysia’s beloved badminton hero Lee Chong Wei is hanging up his racket for good effective immediately, citing his health reasons. The prolific Malaysian athlete announced his retirement today (13 June) at a press conference at Menara KBS in Putrajaya.
Mr Lee was diagnosed with nose cancer in July last year and had taken a short break from training as he sought medical treatment in Taiwan. The 36-year old father of two has had an illustrious 19-year career during which time he held the title as world number one for 199 consecutive weeks from 21 August 2008 to 14 June 2012.
“Today, everyone knows more or less my intention for calling this press conference. I would like to announce that I’m retiring from the sport after 19 years,” announced the three-time Olympic silver medallist.
In a mix of Malay and English, Lee explained that after consultation with his doctors, trainers, and family, it was ultimately decided that he wouldn’t be able to continue with the high-intensity training required to keep playing on the international stage given his health.
“I made this decision following discussions with my wife, Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman recently. It is a tough decision but I was left with no option after my recent visit to my doctors in Japan last month,” said Lee.
“I want to thank a lot of people at KBS (Youth and Sports Ministry), ISN (National Sports Institute). I want to thank all my coaches Misbun Sidek, Tey Seu Bock,” said Lee, tearing up.
“I want to thank my wife, most importantly. And I want to thank Malaysia.”
He also thanked the media for supporting his career for almost two decades.
“Someone like him comes once in a lifetime and Malaysians, including myself, are privileged to have someone like him,” said Malaysian Minister of Youth and Sports Syed Saddiq who also present at the press conference. He added that Lee has been appointed as Chef-de-mission for next year’s Tokyo Olympics.