Cancer-hit badminton ace shelves appearance to focus on recovery

2 min

Kuala Lumpur (AFP)

Malaysian badminton star Lee Chong Wei has shown he's a "true fighter" after treatment for nose cancer but he has put public appearances on hold to focus on his recovery, a senior official told AFP on Friday.

Badminton Association of Malaysia president Norza Zakaria said the former world number one is looking well despite losing about five kilos (11 lbs) in weight while undergoing "tough" chemotherapy and proton therapy in Taiwan.

Lee had flagged a media appearance "a few days" after his return to Malaysia on Sunday, but Norza said the 35-year-old needed to rest to strengthen his immune system.

"Lee is a true fighter. He is in incredible spirit. He was extremely cheerful and jovial," he said.

"Lee shared with me his experiences during treatment and told me that his chemotherapy and proton therapy was tough."

Norza said he had breakfast with Lee on Thursday, where the player consumed soup. He said Lee looked better since his return to Malaysia.

"Lee has lost some weight, maybe four to five kilogrammes, but he is looking good," he said.

Last month, BAM announced that the three-time Olympic silver medallist was diagnosed with early-stage nose cancer.

BAM had said in July that Lee was suffering from a respiratory-related disorder and was pulling out of the World Championships and Asian Games.

Lee is Malaysia's top sports star after his long run of success at badminton's highest levels, despite his oft-lamented failure to win a world or Olympic title.

But Norza said he told the three-time Olympic silver medallist to recuperate and not to think about his future in the sport.

"I told Lee, we can sit and talk about the future of his badminton career in the next three weeks and I told him all Malaysians are praying for his speedy recovery," the badminton chief said.

Lee is currently ranked fifth in the world, after fighting his way back to prominence following his return from a doping ban in 2015.

Lee tested positive for a banned anti-inflammatory drug at the 2014 World Championships, an incident which many feared would end his career.