'The court feels a lot bigger', says Chong Wei

KUALA LUMPUR: "The court feels a lot bigger!"

That's what national badminton ace Lee Chong Wei felt after commencing his first court training session at the Academy Badminton Malaysia (ABM) in Bukit Kiara on Monday (Jan 7).

The 36-year-old has yet to step onto the courts at ABM, which is the training base for national badminton team, since he was diagnosed with nose cancer in July last year.

Chong Wei made a surprise return to ABM last Friday but did just some quick and light workout in the gym.

This time, Chong Wei spent more than an hour in a closed-door training session before hitting the gym for another two hours, concentrating mainly on lifting weights.

Chong Wei admitted that it felt "different" on his first day of training after a six-month absence.

"Being out for five to six months is a such long time, so it did feel different on my first day returning to court today.

"Everything is fine. At this point, I can only do just some light training to get back the feel on the court. The court feels a lot bigger!

"But that's expected. Surely, I'll need more time before going back to my normal routine," he added.

Chong Wei, however, was quick to say that he will be spending more time in the gym than court as regaining his strength and fitness tops his agenda.

"I'm not too worried about my skills. The most important thing now is to get back to top fitness and strength, in particular," said the three-time Olympic silver medallist.

"I have lost my muscle strength in the last few months, so I need to rebuild it.

"But I must also tread with caution as I don't want to get injured. I can't be pushing myself too hard, so I intend to train just three to four times a week to allow myself to recover."

It is definitely a good start for Chong Wei, who is targeting a competitive return to the Malaysian Open, where he's the defending champion and 12-time winner, from April 2-7.