The wait for Chong Wei’s return continues – but hopefully not much longer

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian badminton fans have to wait a little longer for Lee Chong Wei’s return as the singles shuttler has been left out of the Sudirman Cup squad.

The 36-year-old, who was diagnosed with nose cancer last year, has not been given the green light by his doctor to make a return for the World Mixed Team Championships in Nanning, China, from May 19-26.

But Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) coaching and training committee (CNT) chairman Datuk Ng Chin Chai took the decision in his stride.

“His doctor has advised him to take it easy and he’s medically not ready to play in any competitions yet,” said Chin Chai after the CNT meeting at the Academy Badminton Malaysia in Bukit Kiara here yesterday.

Chong Wei is now racing against time to make a return before he loses his protected ranking of world No. 3 in August.

The protection allows him access to all the top-tier tournaments on the World Tour although his world ranking has now dropped to 73rd. That access, however, will only last for another four months.

“No indication has been given whether he will make a return before that date. We’ll let his doctor make that decision as his health is more important than badminton now,” said Chin Chai.

“Up until now, we have also not registered him for any tournaments after the Sudirman Cup.”

Without the services of the former world No. 1, the BAM believe it would be quite impossible to win the Cup and they have named a team with a blend of youth and experience.

The team comprise Lee Zii Jia, Cheam June Wei, Soong Joo Ven (men’s singles), Goh Jin Wei, Soniia Cheah, Lee Ying Ying (women’s singles), Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik, Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi, Nur Izzuddin Rumsani (men’s doubles) Chow Mei Kuan-Lee Meng Yean, Vivian Hoo-Yap Cheng Wen (women’s doubles), Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai Jemie, Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing, Chen Tang Jie (mixed doubles).

“We’re only setting individual targets, we’re hoping for players to perform beyond their capabilities and show improvement - but along the way, if we can reach the quarter-finals or semi-finals ... that’ll be good.”

Malaysia have been drawn with India and 10-time winners China in Group D.

With China having at least two representatives in the world’s top 10 in all departments, Malaysia’s best chance is to beat India to make it beyond the group stage.