KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian badminton ace Lee Chong Wei said on Thursday (Apr 4) he is looking forward to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics - particularly after a challenge thrown down by his "greatest opponent" Lin Dan of China.
Local media had quoted two-time Olympic gold medallist Lin Dan as saying that he would only retire when Lee did so too.
Lee, who is hoping to make his comeback after a cancer battle, said he was honoured to hear the words of encouragement from the Chinese ace.
“I was flattered when he was quoted saying ‘because Chong Wei hasn’t retired from badminton, that spurred me to continue. I really hope to clash swords with him on court soon. To be able to compete with him with him in Tokyo 2020 shall be a dream come true’,” said Lee on his Instagram account on Thursday.
“Like what I had said in my earlier interviews, God willing, my body will allow it. I hope to step onto the court in Tokyo next year. Next year may be the fifth and final Olympics for me and my ‘life’s greatest opponent’. It will be great to meet Lin Dan again and we would have reached a full cycle of 20 years.”
Lee said he was doing all he could to challenge himself to be competitive again.
MALAYSIAN OPEN ‘HEARTACHE’
Three-time Olympic silver medallist Lee has been on the sidelines since July last year, when he was diagnosed with early-stage nose cancer. He underwent a gruelling programme of specialist treatment in Taiwan but opted not to retire and resumed training in January.
But the 36-year-old withdrew from this year’s Malaysian Open after his doctor advised him to pull out of the tournament so as not to put his body under undue stress, throwing his Tokyo 2020 Olympics dream into jeopardy.
“It is a heartache I’m unable to participate in the Malaysia Open 2019, but I hope that all Malaysians can come together to support and cheer our Malaysian players,” Lee said.
“I myself will also be there this weekend, as a spectator this year. See you there.”
Lee wished Lin Dan the best of luck in the tournament being held at the Axiata Arena in Bukit Jalil from Apr 2 to 7.
“My friend Lin Dan, you have my best wishes for the Malaysian Open. If I were to hope for a non-Malaysian to win the men’s singles title, I hope it’s you my friend, my greatest opponent,” said the 12-time Malaysian Open champion.
Lee won the Malaysian Open title from 2004 to 2006, 2008 to 2014, as well as in 2016 and 2018.