KUALA LUMPUR: Former world No. 1 shuttler Lee Chong Wei is set for his first SEA Games in 10 years in Singapore but has ruled himself out of contending for individual glory at the June 5-16 regional showpiece.
The 32-year-old, who is provisionally suspended for a doping violation, said he will only compete in the team event should the Badminton World Federation (BWF) let him off the hook.
Chong Wei tested positive for dexamethasone during the World Championships in Copenhagen last August. He went to a BWF hearing in Amsterdam on April 11, but was told the decision would only be made in three weeks’ time.
A SEA Games gold medal is one of the honours missing from Chong Wei’s trophy cabinet, but it was deemed unimportant as he has the bigger objective – qualifying for the Rio De Janeiro Olympic Games next year – in mind.
“No, (the individual SEA Games gold medal) it’s not important to me ... it does not offer any world ranking points,” said Chong Wei after launching Samsung’s new flagship smartphone S6 and S6 Edge at a shopping mall here.
“I’ll only play in the team event as the BAM (Badminton Association of Malaysia) plan to send me for a tournament which will clash with the SEA Games’ competition.
“So it’s important for me to start collecting points through the world ranking tournaments in order to improve on my position.
“It’s the Olympics that matters. There’s no time to be wasted come this May 1 when the one-year Rio 2016 qualification period commences.”
At the SEA Games, the Thomas Cup and Uber Cup-style team events will take place from June 5-7, before it resumes with five individual disciplines.
And Chong Wei hopes his presence will spur the national squad in their bid to reclaim the team title from Indonesia.
Chong Wei was part of the gold medal-winning side when he last appeared in the SEA Games back in 2005 in Manila.
“If I’m eligible to compete, the team will be counting on me to deliver the first point. I hope to play the crucial role of boosting the team’s morale.”
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