Chong Wei comeback depends on doctor’s visit next week

Lee Chong Wei.

Lee Chong Wei’s projected return to competitive badminton in April after recovering from early stage nose cancer will rest on his visit to Taiwan for a medical check-up next week.

“I had a chat with Hendrawan (men’s singles coach) and his (Chong Wei’s) progress is good. It’s just that he needs to wait for the doctor’s advice before making a final decision,” Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) coaching director Wong Choong Hann told FMT.

“That is within our expectations. His name has been included for the Malaysia Open (April 2-7), but the final decision will be made after the medical check-up.”

Chong Wei looked sharp in training when FMT visited the BAM training academy in Bukit Kiara on Friday, as the 35-year-old sparred with two different partners in the two-hour session.

Choong Hann affirmed that observation by insisting the Malaysian ace was well on track for a competitive comeback.

“He is training three days a week, but the intensity is picking up. He is playing full courts now, and his gym training has also been consistent. We are waiting for the doctor’s green light for him to go full swing in training.

“We will definitely not rush him and he himself had a discussion with us to gauge his body. We can’t be sure about his true condition until he returns to court for action, because training intensity differs from actual competition.

“At this point it’s not about his match temperament, skill set or tactical strategy, but rather his sustainability for high level performance against opponents when he returns. It has to be a balance of working hard and staying injury free.”

Chong Wei declined to speak to the press after his training, presumably preferring to do so after he gets the verdict from his doctor.

The three-time Olympic silver medalist had planned to return at the just concluded All-England, but he delayed the comeback for the Malaysia Open where he is defending champion.

Should he play, Chong Wei will face India’s K Srikanth in the first round.

If he doesn’t get the nod for the Malaysia Open, then Chong Wei will most likely aim to play at the Sudirman Cup mixed-team event in May.

The Penangite has also not ruled out playing at the Tokyo Olympics next year, but he will need to start playing competitively soon as the qualifying period begins in May.

Prior to his illness, Chong Wei had been in tantalizing form.

He clinched the Malaysia Open for the 12th time last June, before reaching the semifinals of the Indonesia Open in July.