In a report by The Star, national shuttler Dato’ Lee Chong Wei revealed that he is cutting down on the tournaments before the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in August.
The world No. 4 also told the English-language daily that the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) should expose the younger shuttlers at the Thomas Cup qualifiers in Hyderabad, India, from 15th to 21st February 2016.
I’m all for it if BAM want to field the youngsters. But if they need me, I will play. I’ll leave it up to BAM.
According to The Star, the Thomas Cup Finals will be held in Kunshan, China, from 15th to 22nd May and only the top 12 teams from the qualifying tournament can participate in it.
Having won a silver medal at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games, Chong Wei said that he will not be playing in the China and Indonesia leagues as he wants to focus on winning gold in Rio de Janeiro.
I’m not playing in the China League this month … it will require me to be there for more than one month. It will be too taxing on me as my priority is the Rio Olympics.
“I will start the season next year by playing in the Malaysian Masters (from Jan 19-24) in my hometown Penang. I’m looking forward to it,” he told The Star. “Then, I will compete in the All-England (in March). I’ve not decided whether to go for the German and Swiss Opens. I’ll play in the Malaysian Open (in April) for sure. There will be one or 2 more tournaments after that,” he added.
The 33-year-old also admitted that he was considering retiring after the 2016 Olympics. As the 2017 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games will be held in Kuala Lumpur, he opted to keep playing until he wins gold at the next SEA Games.
I was thinking of ending my career after my last Olympic Games in Rio. But I’ve been asked to stay on at least until the next SEA Games.
“I’ve not won the SEA Games singles gold … this will be my last shot,” he added.
Earlier in November, Chong Wei won the China Open by defeating Chen Long of China 21-15 and 21-11 in the final. He also triumphed at the French and Hong Kong Opens following a dismal run of form, which saw him making early exits at the Japan, Korea, and Denmark Opens.
Regarding his recent success, Chong Wei credited national coaches Hendrawan and Tey Seu Bock for “helping him break into the top 10 on the world rankings once again”.
I was initially uncomfortable with Hendrawan’s style of coaching. It was tough.
“But my game has changed … I have more variety in my game now and that was evident in my recent victories. I’m grateful to (coach) Tey Seu Bock and all the other coaches who assisted me earlier. Now, I hope to follow Hendrawan’s plan and programme until the Olympic Games,” he added.