May 24 – World badminton number one Lee Chong Wei needs a miracle if he is to take part in the London Olympics after suffering an ankle injury, a top Malaysian official said on Thursday.
Lee, beaten by Chinese rival Lin Dan in the 2008 Beijing final, tore an ankle tendon in a Thomas Cup match against Denmark’s Peter Gade in Wuhan earlier this week.
"We are all very sad that Chong Wei has suffered an injury that will hamper his Olympic preparation," Malaysia’s Youth and Sports Minister Shabery Cheek told the Star newspaper.
"We don’t know how long he will need to recover and it will probably be a miracle if he does make it in time. He’ll have the best treatment possible.
"Most importantly, there is no pressure on him to recover fast."
The Olympics begin on July 27.
The National Sports Institute’s chief executive officer Ramlan Aziz attempted to put a positive spin on an injury which will badly dent Malaysian morale for London.
"After looking at the MRI, we have a clear picture of Chong Wei’s injury," Aziz told Malaysia’s Bernama news agency.
"It is not serious and I hope he can recover quickly and return to the court soon," he added after reviewing the initial test results.
"The orthopaedic surgeons (said) Chong Wei will be able to recover in four weeks or less and that is good news to us."
Aziz said, however, that further scans would be done to ensure Lee is properly fit for London.
"We’ll also need to do further scans to get a clearer picture of the injury and give him the proper treatment," he said. "Hopefully, there will be no need for surgery.
"All I can say now is that he’ll probably need to rest for three to four weeks."
Lee’s injury triggered alarm in Malaysia, with the 29-year-old the badminton-obsessed country’s best hope of winning a first Olympic gold medal.
His great rival, Lin, said he hoped to see Lee compete in London.
"It’s a pity that Chong Wei is injured," said Lin. "He’s my friend and I hope he will recover in time for the Games."