KUALA LUMPUR: Badminton great Lee Chong Wei aims to make his comeback in April at the Malaysia Open after a cancer battle, a month later than he originally hoped, an official confirmed Tuesday.
The three-time Olympic silver medallist and former world number has been on the sidelines since July last year when he was diagnosed with early-stage nose cancer.
The Malaysian star underwent a gruelling programme of specialist treatment in Taiwan but pledged not to retire and resumed training last month.
The 36-year-old had previously said he wanted to make a return to competitive play at the All England Open in March.
But on Monday Chong Wei told local media he was targeting a return to action on home soil at the Malaysia Open, which he has won 12 times, from April 2 to 7.
“I have got another appointment with my doctor in Taiwan next month. Once I get the green light from him, then I will make a full comeback, hopefully at the Malaysia Open,” he told the New Straits Times newspaper.
“It isn’t time to make a full comeback yet, I have to do it slowly in stages after consulting my doctor.”
Badminton Association of Malaysia general manager Michelle Chai confirmed to AFP that Chong Wei planned to come back in April.
Chong Wei still hopes to compete in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics but may face a tough fight to qualify against rising Malaysian stars.
Since he stopped playing, he has slipped to 30 in the world rankings, behind two Malaysian players, Lee Zii Jia and Liew Daren. A country can send a maximum of two players to complete in the Games, provided they are both ranked in the world’s top 16.
“It is only fair for the best players to qualify for the Olympics,” said Chong Wei, who has played in four previous editions of the Games.
“Zii Jia and Daren have not played in the Olympics, so it’s anybody’s game. Everyone has a chance of qualifying, we shouldn’t underestimate anybody.”