Lee Chong Wei announces retirement, after 19-year remarkable badminton career

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Lee wipes his tears during the press conference. (photo: AFP)
Lee wipes his tears during the press conference. (photo: AFP)

Kuala Lumpur: The Malaysian badminton legend Lee Chong Wei made his announcement of retiring from badminton on Thursday after 19 years of stellar career.

During the press conference that was held in Putrajaya on Thursday, Lee was accompanied by Malaysia’s Youth and Sports Minister, Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman and President of the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM), Norza Zakaria. Lee gave a particularly emotional farewell speech and even shed some tears, saying in order to balance his health, family and badminton, he had to make a tough decision to call it quit.

“Today, I would like to announce my retirement from badminton after 19 years in BAM,” said Lee.

“This is a really tough decision. I’ve decided to make this move after I went to Taiwan for the follow-up medical check-up with my doctors last April.”

“My doctor told my wife that training for badminton is very high intensity, and advised me to get more rest.”

“So I took one month off after I came back from Taiwan. During that time, I had a thorough discussion with my family about the future of my career, and after meeting with Norza and Syed Saddiq, I have decided to make the announcement today,” said Lee.

Lee also thanked the BAM, coaches, media, sponsors, fans and others for their support throughout these years.

Lee Chong Wei (2R) poses with his wife Wong Mew Choo (2L), President of Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) Norza Zakaria (L) and Malaysia's Minister of Youth and Sports Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman. (photo: Mohd Rasfan/Afp/Getty Images)
Lee Chong Wei (2R) poses with his wife Wong Mew Choo (2L), President of Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) Norza Zakaria (L) and Malaysia’s Minister of Youth and Sports Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman. (photo: Mohd Rasfan/Afp/Getty Images)

Via his Facebook page, Lee posted the following message after the press conference:

“To all my family friends and fans. To everyone of you who have been a part of my life, thank you. A real big sincere thank you.

Months ago, all of you knew I had cancer. I fought it. And I thought I fought it well. I thought I could try one more time.

I am just someone who love to play badminton. Someone who love my country. I feared of retiring with regrets. I was scared of not delivering that elusive Olympic gold for Malaysia. So when I was cleared of cancer, I took up my racquet and trained once again.

After few days of light training, I wanted to get clearanyce from my doctor to heighten my training intensity, then i was dealt a major blow. From that scan, doctor shook his head and said i might face the risk of recurrence if I continue to train. Mew Choo crumbled crying. She feared i might be stubborn and continue to pursue my dream.

I was at loss. I thought “How am I supposed to hang up my racket after nearly twenty years of competitive badminton?, “ How about my Olympic dreams?”

At home, i kept myself occupied with my two sons, Kingston and Terrence. I bathed them, I fed them, I taught them badminton. I spent time with them. Most importantly, I really watched them grew up.

Then it struck me to finally make up my mind. I shouldn’t be so selfish. I have played for myself, I have played for my country. This time, I want to play the role of a father, for long long time. I want to see them grow up to be proper men, to get married, to have kids. I want to take care of my wife when she is old too.

So Yes, I have made my decision to quit. I’m sorry that I couldn’t make it to Tokyo this time around. And I’m sorry I didn’t deliver an Olympic gold. But I know I’ve no regrets as I’ve tried my best. My very best.

I hope my name Lee Chong Wei has inspired you all one way or another, same like the way you guys inspired me. Without my family, my teammates, my coaches, and my supporters, I won’t achieve anything.

To my fellow badminton players like the Lin Dans, the Taufiks, the Peter Gades, and Hyun ills. Yup, my time is up. Thank you for the great battles we had. As amazing as it is, i think our era should be coming to an end now. Momota, Victor, Yuqi and Zi Jia, do hold the fort well. Make the world realise badminton is the best sport on earth.

To fellow Malaysian shuttlers, don’t give up the dream. Please remember there are actually thousands of Malaysians praying for your success. Train harder everyday. Always beat yesterday’s training records. Also, a sportsman life is short. Don’t end with regrets. There is actually a young 5 years old Ali, Muthu or Ah Meng idolising you, making you their Malaysian superhero. Don’t disappoint them. Play for the flag, play for Negaraku.

I had no regrets. When i started playing badminton, all I wanted to do is to represent Malaysia. And I believed I did it with pride and honour.

Well. I’m done. Thank you very much to all of you. Lee Chong Wei signing out.”

In the press conference, Malaysia’s Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman also announced that he and Zakaria have agreed to nominate Lee to become the chef de mission for Malaysian delegation at the Tokyo Olympics next summer.

“No matter what he decides to do after this, we will provide full support for him. He is the hero to all Malaysians,” said Syed Saddiq.

“At the same time, while he may have retired, but we have decided collectively to nominate Datuk Lee Chong Wei as the chef de mission for the Tokyo Olympics,” added Syed Saddiq.

Meanwhile, President of BAM, Norza Zakaria also expressed his gratitude towards Lee Chong Wei for his achievements and contributions to the sport of badminton.

“I am here today with a very mixed emotion, very sad, as a badminton lover I can no longer witness a star and a legend who has inspired many to continue playing on the badminton court,” said Zakaria.

“We are also sad that we have to accept the decision from the legend that he would like to call it a day.”

“But I also feel happy and privileged that Datuk Wira Lee is able to call it quit on his own term,” added Zakaria.

Picture below posted by BAM summarized the extraordinary achievements by Lee Chong Wei during his 19-year illustrative career in BAM.

69 total career titles (47 Superseries titles), 348 weeks as World No. 1, what an extraordinary career by Lee Chong Wei. (photo: BAM)
69 total career titles (47 Superseries titles), 348 weeks as World No. 1, what an extraordinary career by Lee Chong Wei. (photo: BAM)

Lee said he plans to take his wife, Wong Mew Choo for a honeymoon after the retirement.

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