Malaysian legend Lee Chong Wei turns down coaching role

The 36-year-old Lee, who retired from badminton this year, says he wants to focus on other things for now.

By ZK Goh

Coaching might have seemed the natural next step for badminton legend Lee Chong Wei following his retirement from the sport.

But not right now. The Malaysian says he has other plans in the short-term.

The 36-year-old had been offered the role of national coach by the Badminton Association of Malaysia, but he has turned it down.

"For the time being, I want to spend time with my family," Malaysian state news agency Bernama quoted Lee as saying.

"I want to focus on what charity work I can do in this one year, and becoming the chef-de-mission to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games."

–Lee Chong Wei

Leading his country

The three-time Olympic silver medallist has been appointed by the Olympic Council of Malaysia as the country's chef-de-mission at next year's Tokyo 2020 Games.

This means the 36-year-old will be in charge of the entire Malaysian delegation in the Japanese capital. He won't be the only Olympic medallist taking on that job next year: three-time swimming champion Pieter van den Hoogenband is leading the Netherlands, while Sydney 2000 rowing champ Rob Waddell will be at the helm for New Zealand.

"I still have a lot to learn to become a CDM," Lee said, according to Bernama.

"Before, I was an athlete but now I am an official and I have to look at other athletes other than in the sport of badminton."

In a playing career spanning 19 years, Lee attended four Olympic Games from Athens 2004 to Rio 2016, winning silver in Beijing, London, and Rio.

He also spent 378 weeks ranked world number one, winning 69 tournaments along the way.

But all that came crashing down when he was diagnosed with nose cancer last year, eventually forcing him away from the sport on doctors' orders.

Up-and-coming talents

Malaysia's Youth and Sports Ministry had previously proposed that Lee should take up a mentoring role with the Badminton Association of Malaysia.

That might have seen him working with talents like Lim Chong King, Soong Joo Ven, or even Malaysia's current number one, Lee Zii Jia (no relation), who has produced some headlines at this year's BWF World Championships in Switzerland.

The younger Lee, aged 21, burst onto the scene by winning the Chinese Taipei Open last year shortly after news of Chong Wei's cancer diagnosis broke, giving Malaysian badminton fans something to cheer for.

However, with Chong Wei's decision, Zii Jia may now well have to wait until Tokyo 2020 to work with the legend.


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