Malaysian legend Lee Chong Wei announces retirement from badminton after an illustrious 19-year career

Former World No 1 and Malaysia’s most successful badminton player, Lee Chong Wei announced retirement from professional badminton after an illustrious 19-year career.

Lee made his announcement in a press conference convened at the Youth and Sports Minister’s office in the presence of Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman and Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) president Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria.

At a press conference, the 36-year-old – who was diagnosed with nose cancer in July last year – said he made the decision after a recent check-up in Taiwan. The announcement arrived on the back of doctor's advice to ease off in order to avoid a relapse of the nose cancer. He has since made a recovery, but hasn’t been nearly as active in training.

Although he resumed training in January and targeted a competitive return at the All England Championships in March and Malaysian Open in April, his plans came to nothing.

“I told the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) that I want to spend time with my family,” he added.

The three-time Olympic silver medallist said he had discussed the issue with both his wife and his doctor. “She told me to rest. I took rest and discussed it with BAM and (Youth and Sports Minister) Syed Saddiq. I said after Raya, I will retire.”

An emotional Lee wiped away tears and said it had been a very difficult decision for him. “(But) my health is more important.”

He thanked those who had supported him for the past 19 years, including the youth and sports ministry, BAM, the National Sports Council and his coaches.

He clinched silver medals at the Beijing (2008), London (2012) and Rio de Janeiro (2016) Games, as well as in three World Championships outings in London (2011), Guangzhou (2013) and Jakarta (2015). Of those six losses, four were at the hands of on-court rival and great friend Lin Dan, arguably the greatest player of his generation. The last two defeats were at the hands of another Chinese shuttler, Chen Long.

He finished runner-up in his three World Championships campaigns in London (2011), Guangzhou (2013) and Jakarta (2015).

The right-handed shuttler bagged a total of 69 titles throughout his career. That includes a staggering 46 titles in the now-defunct Superseries – the Badminton World Federation's (BWF) top-flight circuit.

He also spent a whopping 349 weeks, including a 199-week streak from 2008-2012 as the No 1 shuttler in the world.

It was also announced in the press conference that the 36-year-old will be the Chef De Mission for Malaysia’s 2020 Olympics contingent.

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Updated Date: Jun 13, 2019 12:39:54 IST