Malaysian badminton icon Datuk Wira Lee Chong Wee is a notable absentee in prestigious Yonex All England Championships which begin in Birmingham on Wednesday.
The 36-year-old 100PLUS Ambassador has not been given medical clearance to take to the courts in a competitive tournament after being diagnosed with nose cancer in July last year.
The four-time winner of the prestigious much sought after HSBC BWF World Tour Super 1000 tournament which carries a hefty price tag of USD1 million.
Chong Wei, who is determined to compete in his fifth Olympics in Tokyo 2020 provided he gets medical clearance, won the All England in 2010, 2011, 2014 and 2017.
Malaysia’s lone flag bearer in the men’s singles this year is professional Liew Daren.
Despite Chong Wei’s absence, Malaysia is still banking on at least one title
in the doubles events with Rio Olympics mixed doubles Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying silver medallists as a good bet.
Malaysia has never won the mixed doubles in the All England but Peng Soon-Liu Ying came close in 2017 before crashing out to China’s Lu Kai-Huang Yaqiong in the final.
The top Malaysian pair, who turned professionals this year, failed to retain their title in last week’s German Open in Muelheim but are slowly getting into stride after winning the Thailand Open this year and reached the semi-finals in the Malaysia Masters and Indonesian Masters.
Malaysia is also counting on the Rio Olympics silver medal winners Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong in the men’s doubles if they can put their erratic performance aside. There is also rising men’s doubles pair Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik.
In the women’s single Malaysia’s reigning Youth Olympics and two-time world junior champion Goh Jin Wei faces a tough draw but do not rule out surprises from the 100PLUS Ambassador.
The 19-year-old has gained “confidence” in her game and scalped some of the higher ranked players which in coach Datuk Tey Seu Bok’s own words shown “maturity at the senior level”.
Ranked 24 in the world Jin Wei opens her campaign with a first-round match against Japan’s Sayaka Takahashi.
Soniia Cheah who retained her national title by defeating Jin Wei in the final and ranked 36 also faces a Japanese opponent Aya Ohoriin the first round. RIZAL ABDULLAH