PUTRAJAYA, 13 June 2019:
National shuttler Datuk Lee Chong Wei today announced he would ‘hang up the racket’ after 19 illustrious years of playing for the country on the international stage.
The announcement was made at a special press conference at Menara KBS here today. Also present were Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, his deputy Steven Sim and Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) president Datuk Seri Mohamad Norza Zakaria.
At the packed press conference attended by local and foreign media, a tearful Lee, 36, said it was a heavy decision to make as he really loved the sports which he started playing since the age of 10.
“Today, everyone knows I want to announce my retirement announcement after 19 years with BAM. It’s not easy for me to make this decision because I really love this sport, but right now, my health is more important to me.”
But Chong Wei will still go to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo although not as a competing athlete but as Chef-de-Mission (CDM) to the meet held once in four years.
This was announced by Syed Saddiq – who said the decision to name the three-time silver medallist at the Olympic Games was made after holding discussions with the Mohamad Norza and Chong Wei himself.
“We have collectively decided to nominate Datuk Lee Chong Wei as the CDM for Tokyo Olympics 2020. The reason is simple. We cannot think of anyone better to fly the Malaysian flag high, and to also inspire our young athletes.
“As I mentioned before, although Datuk Lee Chong Wei chose to retire, his fighting spirit will not be suppressed. The fighting spirit of Datuk Lee Chong Wei will burn in the hearts and minds of our athletes in Malaysia, not just in badminton but all athletes.
“Even after knowing that he had to go through several medical processes which are quite tough, at the same time he made a decision to continue playing, continue to train. He didn’t stop. That shows that he is a true fighter like no other out there.”
Syed Saddiq said the Youth and Sports Ministry would always give its support to the former number one world shuttler in whatever decision he would make later.
“No matter what path he chooses to take after this, we will give our support. He is a true hero to all Malaysians. It is a privilege to serve you, sir. Thank you very much.”
Chong Wei said his selection as Malaysia’s Chef-de-Mission to Tokyo was like a “dream comes true”. He hoped the role as CDM could help other athletes to realise the nation’s dream to bring home a gold medal for the first time from the Olympic Games.
Chong Wei won the silver medal at the Olympic Games in Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio de Janeiro 2016, and became the first Malaysian to qualify for the men’s singles final and ended Malaysia’s medal drought at the Olympic Games since 1996.
Mohamad Norza Zakaria said BAM respected the decision made to retire by Chong Wei on his own volition and not for other reasons.
‘’I am with you today with a very mixed emotion. As a badminton lover, I am very sad as I will no longer witness a legend whose style on the badminton court inspired many to watch and play the game.
“Very sad that as a Malaysian, I will no longer have a legend who is always ever dependable and have also inspired others to wear the Jalur Gemilang with pride and honour.
“Very sad as a president of BAM to accept the decision made by our legend today to call it a day on court.
“Despite all his successes and riches, he is still humble, respectful and above all still has the same hunger for success from the day he first started (his career).
“His hunger is not just for his own (success) but also for Malaysian badminton. On this note, I hope Datuk Lee Chong Wei will always be with us to chart the future and to find someone to step into his shoes.”
Mohamad Norza said on behalf of BAM, coaches, players and association staff, he thanked Chong Wei for all the memories and contributions to the country.
“Indeed, the world will miss the ‘King of Super Series’ and Malaysians will miss their national sporting hero and icon. In a generation of truly great players, you are indeed the best,”