He became one of badminton’s hottest property but Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei is expected to retire without a world title or an Olympic gold to show after it was confirmed that the 36-year-old will not be competing in this year’s World Championships in Basel, Switzerland from August 19-25.
Chong Wei has been ruled out after his rankings dropped to 113 and instead Malaysia will be represented by current top national player Lee Zii Jia, who is ranked 21, and professional Liew Daren who is at 27. Another professional Chong Wei Feng is ranked 50.
The qualifying period from the World Championships ended on April 30.
Zii Jia and Daren have earned their place in the World Championships on merit and the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria has confirmed that the national body will not interfere with the rankings so that those eligible will carry the nation’s challenge in Basel.
Chong Wei, a household name in the badminton world, and badminton best-known ambassador is also out of the Malaysian team for the Sudirman Cup mixed team event in Nanning from May 19-26.
The much-loved Chong Wei has not played in any badminton tournament since the Indonesian Open in Jakarta in July last year where he reached the semi-finals before bowing out to Japan’s Kento Momota. A week earlier he had beaten Momota to win his 12th Malaysia Open title.
Chong Wei was later diagnosed with nose cancer and sought treatment in Chinese Taipei. The Malaysian ace was also forced to withdraw from last year’s World Championships in China and the Asian Games in Indonesia.
He is still under follow-up treatment in Taipei. Although he has been given the green light to resume training he has yet to get medical clearance to play competitive badminton.
The “Big C” has taken a toll on Chong Wei physically and his earlier plans to make a “comeback” in the All-England fell through. He also skipped this year’s Malaysia Open for the same reasons.
Chong Wei won the silver medal at the Beijing Olympics (2008), the London Olympics (2012) and the Rio de Janeiro Olympics (2016). In the World Championships, he played bridesmaid in 2011 (London), 2013 (Guangzhou), and 2015 in Jakarta. – BY RIZAL ABDULLAH