It’s official: Lee Chong Wei is retiring. And it seems like he already has a list of things he would like to do during his free time – starting with bringing his wife on a long-overdue honeymoon, The Star has reported.
Wong Mew Choo, whom Lee married in 2012, revealed to reporters that Lee had expressed intentions to take her on their first honeymoon after retiring. Unlike other married couples, the pair did not get to enjoy a trip after their wedding due to Lee’s career commitments, The Star said.
But Wong has other priorities. She was quoted by The Star as saying: “For me now, a honeymoon is not important; what’s more important is his health.”
Adding that it was not easy to plan a holiday or travel because of their two children – aged six and four – the former badminton player said that she only wanted for her husband’s “body to recover and to give him time to relax”.
According to The Star, the former badminton world number 1 announced at a press conference on Thursday (June 13) that he would be retiring from the sport due to his health, ending his 19-year career as a professional athlete.
In a Facebook post later on the same day, Lee said: “I was scared of not delivering that elusive Olympic gold for Malaysia. So when I was cleared of cancer, I took up my racquet and trained once again.”
Lee had been diagnosed with early stage nose cancer in September last year. In his Facebook post, Lee revealed that he was “at a loss” when his doctor told him that he risked a relapse if he continued to train at such high intensity.
“Then it struck me to finally make up my mind. I shouldn’t be so selfish. I have played for myself, I have played for my country,” he said.
“This time, I want to play the role of a father, for (a) long, long time. I want to see them grow up to be proper men, to get married, to have kids. I want to take care of my wife when she is old too,” the 36-year-old wrote.
A story of two badminton players
Lee had met his wife in a badminton academy when they were only 17-years-old, he said in an interview with The Star in 2017. They started dating a year later, and have been together for 18 years since, with a short but public breakup in 2009.
“She really takes care of me,” he told The Star in a video interview.
Recalling a time when he hurt his ankle, he said: “She took me to the hospital and followed me for treatments. She always puts me first.”
Lee told The Star that his wife stayed by his side during the doping allegations in 2014, adding: “When she knew I couldn’t sleep or she saw me crying, she would tell me: ‘This is not your fault. You must prove yourself and make a comeback? I trust you’.”
Even his rivals will miss him
One thing’s for sure: Lee’s fans won’t be the only ones missing him.
Long-time rival and five-time world champion Lin Dan dedicated the Mandarin song “Peng You Bie Ku” (Don’t Cry My Friend) to Lee via Weibo on Thursday.
In his post, Lin said: “Now I’m left alone, I no longer have a companion.”
According to The Star, the rivals have gone against each other a total of 40 times, with Lin winning 28 games.
Lee, a three-time Olympic silver medalist, is Malaysia’s most successful athlete at the Olympics, The Straits Times reported.
Lee has won a total of 705 games in his 19-year career, and was also the world’s number 1 player for six consecutive years from 2008 to 2013, Bernama said.