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Lee to miss World C’ship after fighting cancer

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Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia competes at the semifinal match against Kento Momota of Japan during BWF Badminton Asia Championships 2018 in Wuhan, capital of central China's Hubei Province, April 28, 2018. Lee Chong Wei lost 0-2. Xinhua/Xiong Qi

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) – Badminton star Lee Chong Wei will miss the World Championships in August after falling down the rankings following a prolonged absence due to cancer, an official said yesterday.

It means the Malaysian former world number one loses the chance to win the world title for the first time, and deals another blow to his fading hopes of competing in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Michelle Chai, general manager of the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM), said Lee – currently ranked 113 in the world – would not play in the championships in Switzerland from August 19-25.

“Lee Chong Wei won’t take part in the world championship as he currently does not qualify on merit,” she told AFP.

A country can send a maximum of two players who are inside the world top 150 and there are two Malaysians currently above Lee – Lee Zii Jia and Liew Daren.

BAM president Norza Zakaria confirmed the body would endorse players based on rankings released at the end of April.

“As we know, Chong Wei is not part of the list and he is still working on his fitness,” he was quoted as saying by The Star newspaper.

“The priority for Chong Wei now is for him to recover from his ailments, so let’s focus on that first.”

The triple Olympic silver medallist has been out since July last year when he was diagnosed with early-stage nose cancer.

The 36-year-old endured a tough treatment programme in Taiwan but opted not to retire and resumed training in January.

He skipped the All England Open in March and the Malaysia Open in April – both tournaments where he had hoped to make a comeback – and will also miss this month’s Sudirman Cup mixed-team event in China.

As a singles player, Lee was ranked first worldwide for 199 consecutive weeks from 21 August 2008 to 14 June 2012.

Lee is a triple silver medalist at the Olympic Games, and the sixth Malaysian to win an Olympic medal.

He won his first silver medal in 2008, also the first time a Malaysian had reached the finals in the men’s singles event. He won twice more in 2012 and 2016, making him the most successful Malaysian Olympian in history.

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