PETALING JAYA: Lee Chong Wei is looking at the possibility of being part of the national badminton set-up after his playing days are over, Malaysia’s world number one said in a video interview that was posted on the Badminton World Federation (BWF) Facebook page last Thursday.
After last year’s Rio Olympics exploit, where Chong Wei earned his third silver medal, and what he had previously said was his last shot at the World Championships in August this year, Chong Wei now says he still has a few years of badminton left in him.
“I have been with the Malaysian badminton team for 17 years. There are a few years left in me and so I want to enjoy till I retire.
“Will I stay on the Malaysian team as a coach? I believe I will be involved in the sport. I still do not have any plans though,” Chong Wei said in the interview which is part of the BWF’s Badminton Unlimited series.
Bernama had reported on Jan 8 that Chong Wei was eyeing the Badminton World Championships title in Glasgow, Scotland in August before retiring.
The national champion had said 2017 was to be the final year for him to realise the dream of winning the championship which has thus far, eluded him.
Chong Wei was also reported to have said last September that even the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games was a possibility, should the BWF change the scoring format from 21 points in a best of three sets (21×3) to 11 points in a best of five sets (11×5).
But the World Championships remains his immediate goal, especially after having finished runner-up in the last three editions – losing to Lin Dan of China in 2011 and 2013, and to Lin Dan’s compatriot, Chen Long in 2015.
The same two opponents bested him in the last three Olympic Games badminton final too – Lin Dan in Beijing 2008 and London 2012, and Chen Long in Rio 2016.
He said he will also decide on if, and for how long, he will extend his playing career after the World Championships in August.
“I think this could be my last World Championships. I think the Olympics has taken a lot out of me. Rio Games was also my last Olympic appearance. Sixteen years of my career has passed with me playing in four Olympics.
“So, I will assess my physical condition after the 2017 World Championships. If all is well, I will continue playing in 2018.”
‘Obvious Malaysian successor’
Asked about his potential successor as the number one player in Malaysia, Chong Wei conceded that Iskandar Zulkarnain would be the natural choice being the number two ranked player currently.
But Chong Wei believes it will be tough for any Malaysian player to come through the ranks now and try to equal his achievements.
“When I retire Iskandar is my obvious successor as the second highest-ranked Malaysian player. He has the potential to become a top-10 player,” Chong Wei told Badminton Unlimited.
“But to become another Lee Chong Wei is going to be tough. That is the case not only with Malaysia.
“China, Indonesia and Denmark are also facing a similar situation. It’s very hard to produce another Lin Dan in China, another Peter Gade in Denmark and another Taufik Hidayat in Indonesia,” he said, adding that any search for another Lee Chong Wei will take time and patience.
“We have a lot of talented players in Malaysia. But some of them lack ambition and the courage to dream and be the best. I remember when I was young, I had set big targets, be it during training or competitions. I wanted to execute whatever my coaches said in the best possible way and do it better than everyone else.”