Malaysia's badminton legend Lee Chong Wei announced his retirement from the game on Thursday after weeks of speculation over his health conditions and doubts over his return to the circuit.
Chong Wei was diagnosed with an early stage nose cancer last year. After fighting an intense battle in Taiwan, he was hoping for a last shot at gold at 2020 Tokyo Olympics but he could not make up to the deadlines he had set for himself.
Chong Wei first wanted to return to the court at All England Championships in March this year. After missing that deadline, he set his home tournament Malaysia Open as the return target but failed to meet that as well.
Since April, Chong Wei had not been able to practice hard and was unable to make full return to fitness.
In his illustrious career, Chong Wei has won three Olympic silver medals, three World Championships silver and 46 BWF World Superseries titles. Chong Wei along with Chinese superstar Lin Dan defined the badminton rivalry of the last generation and took the sport to greater heights.
I'm sorry that I couldn’t make it to Tokyo this time around. And I’m sorry I didn’t deliver an Olympic gold. But I know I’ve no regrets as I’ve tried my best. My very best. Thank you very much to all of you. Lee Chong Wei signing out.https://t.co/V0K5GSVLh4 pic.twitter.com/Sfz0eBwOTm— Dato' Lee Chong Wei (@LeeChongWei) June 13, 2019
Now at the age of 36, as Chong Wei bids goodbye to his playing career, badminton fraternity came together to salute the legend, who has inspired a whole generation of shuttlers that we see now.
Olympic gold medallist Carolina Marin took to Twitter to thank Chong Wei for all the years of badminton he has played and said he had "inspired everyone who loves badminton."
India's badminton queen Saina Nehwal expressed her gratitude and asked Chong Wei to take care of his health. "Really loved ur performances for many years @LeeChongWei .. ur great badminton legend and it’s very sad to know that ur retiring ... I wish u the best for future and pls take care of ur health ...," Saina tweeted.
Really loved ur performances for many years @LeeChongWei .. ur great badminton legend and it’s very sad to know that ur retiring ... I wish u the best for future and pls take care of ur health ... ?????? pic.twitter.com/vH92YJ0Urh— Saina Nehwal (@NSaina) June 13, 2019
Kidambi Srikanth, who lost the 2018 Commonwealth Games men's singles final to Chong Wei, wished him best for the life ahead while HS Prannoy quipped that age was just a number for the Malaysian legend.
Parupalli Kashyap called Chong Wei "the toughest player on the circuit to play against in all the different conditions" and said he will be missed on the court.
India's top men's doubles duo of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty also paid their tribute to the legendary player. Satwik said he was lucky to share the Premier Badminton League (PBL) dressing room with Chong Wei while Chirag said that the "fraternity was losing one of its gems".
I wish u a happy retirement @LeeChongWei, what u have done for our sport cannot be described and your friendly face will be missed at tournaments. All the best in the future, u have done ur service, now it’s time to enjoy life😜🚀🕺🏻🍾🇲🇾— Mathias Boe (@mathiasboe) June 13, 2019
Goodbye @LeeChongWei, you will be missed on Court!India 🇮🇳has witnessed the best of you and we thank you for the memories.We pray for your good health and wish you all the best for your future endeavours.Pic Credit: @bwfmedia #BestofBadminton #India #LeeChongWei #badminton pic.twitter.com/B9gRlsccjj— BAI Media (@BAI_Media) June 13, 2019