Putrajaya (Malaysia): Malaysian shuttler and three-times Olympic silver medalist Lee Chong Wei announced his retirement from badminton citing health reasons on Thursday, ending 19 years of professional career since his debut in 2000.
"I would like to announce that I'm retiring from the sport after 19 years," Lee said at a press conference at the Youth and Sports Ministry here.
The decision was a difficult one, and one he has struggled with, Lee told
Ultimately he and his family decided that retirement was the best course following nose cancer he suffered last year, reports Xinhua news agency.
The decision came following doctors' suggestion to Lee to take more rest instead of training to return to competitions.
The 36-year-old choked many times as he spoke. He thanked all Malaysians for their support, specifically naming the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM).
Asked if he would consider coaching for the national team, Lee said he would prioritize his recovery before discussing it with BAM but added: "If Malaysia needs my help, 100 percent I will help."
Lee was first diagnosed with early stage nose cancer last year but returned to training later as he tried to make it to the Tokyo Olympics Games in 2020.
Although he didn't win Malaysia's first Olympic goal or a world champion title, the three-time Olympic silver medalist left the game as a giant, having held the World No. 1 spot for six consecutive years, amassing a total of 705 wins and 69 titles.
Lee's epic competition with Lin Dan of China has become legend of the sports, with 40 matches throughout the career including three at the Olympics.
"Like Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in tennis who are always competing, we have Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei in badminton," he said. "If there's no Lin Dan, there will not be the Lee Chong Wei today," he told Xinhua.
Lee spoke highly for his nemesis and wished the 35-year-old Lin all the best in the quest for the Tokyo Olympic Games. "We may no longer be opponents, but we are still good friends. I am looking forward to seeing him play at the Tokyo Olympics," he said. (IANS)
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