Badminton: Lee Chong Wei announces retirement, ending 19-year career

Badminton: Lee Chong Wei announces retirement, ending 19-year career

Lee Chong Wei crying
Malaysia's badminton player Lee Chong Wei reacts during a press conference to announce his retirement in Putrajaya on Jun 13, 2019. (Photo: AFP)

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysian badminton great Lee Chong Wei is retiring from the sport after a 19-year-career, he announced on Thursday (Jun 13).

"My decision to retire is a heavy one. I really love this sport. But it is a demanding sport. I thank all Malaysians for the past 19 years," a teary-eyed Lee, 36, told a news conference.

He wanted to bow out next year after Tokyo Games, he said. However, his doctor advised him to rest and minimise pressure.

Lee, a father of two, said he would now like to rest and spend time with his family and even take his wife on a honeymoon, a trip that has been delayed since their marriage in 2012.

READ: 'I'm sorry I didn’t deliver an Olympic gold': Lee Chong Wei apologises to country, fans

The three-time Olympic silver medallist was diagnosed with early-stage nose cancer in July last year. News of his condition and subsequent treatment in Taiwan were made public in September.

He said the cancer was detected following a check-up, after he had been unwell. Earlier reports said he had pulled out of two major tournaments due to poor health. 

READ: Lee Chong Wei, badminton's modern great

READ: Lee Chong Wei on the moment he found out he had cancer

However, he said he was keen to play again following treatment.

But the former world No. 1 has not trained since April and after missing a series of self-imposed deadlines to return to competition, his hopes of being eligible for next year's Tokyo Olympics were remote.

READ: Malaysia’s badminton fraternity braces for life without Lee Chong Wei

Lee finished second in the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Games, and was aiming to clinch Malaysia's first Olympic gold.

"I really want to go for one more Olympics to make it my fifth consecutive appearance," he said. 

"No athlete from Malaysia has ever competed five times at the Olympics and I want to create history. It's not an easy feat to make it to five Olympics, that's equivalent to 20 years!"

Source: CNA/AFP/ga