Malaysia’s former world number one Lee Chong Wei could return to the badminton training court within a fortnight after fighting back from nose cancer, an official told AFP on Thursday.
The three-time Olympic silver medallist, who has spent nearly five months on the sidelines, is already doing light fitness work after receiving a clean bill of health from doctors, Malaysia’s badminton chief said.
“He sounded cheerful,” said Norza Zakaria, president of the Badminton Association of Malaysia, after speaking to Lee on the phone. “Yes I think so,” he added, when asked to confirm reports that Lee would resume playing in training in two weeks.
Norza also told the Star Online: “I’m sure he will be ready by the time the Olympic qualifying period commences on May 1.”
Lee, now down at 15th in the Badminton World Federation rankings, last played competitively at the Indonesian Open in July.
After losing to world champion Kento Momota of Japan in the semi-finals, he flew to Taiwan for specialist proton therapy – where the cancer is targeted with a beam of protons – and chemotherapy.
But last month Lee, 36, insisted he was not going to hang up his racket. “I want to come back to court,” he told a press conference, adding: “As of now, I am not retiring.”
Lee also said he was targeting a competitive comeback at the All England Open in March, and was still eying an elusive Olympic gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Games.
Lee’s unsuccessful attempts to capture Malaysia’s first ever Olympic gold medal at three consecutive Summer Games were followed avidly back home, as was his long-running rivalry with Chinese superstar Lin Dan.
His last shot at the Olympic title at Rio 2016 ended in a crushing failure when the Malaysian lost out to China’s Chen Long in a nail-biting final. 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.