Memos from Asia

Lee Chong Wei, World’s Legendary Badminton Player from Malaysia

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Badminton is a familiar sport to many and is often played as a casual outdoor sport. However, in many Asian countries, it is seen as a very competitive sport, with an undoubtedly great number of outstanding athletes taking home medal after medal.

Malaysia is home to one of the world’s greatest badminton players of all time, Datuk Lee Chong Wei. With an outstanding amount of achievements and records set, he is considered a legendary badminton player, viewed highly by every aspiring athlete.

Childhood & Early Life

Lee Chong Wei was born in Bagan Serai, Perak on 21 October 1982, making him 38 years old in 2020. Initially, he enjoyed playing basketball, but was advised not to by his mother. He then began to learn badminton at the age of 11 due to influence from his father, Lee Ah Chai, who enjoyed badminton very much and often brought him to play.

He was then scouted by a famous local coach, Teh Peng Huat, who went out of his way to convince Lee Chong Wei’s father to allow him to train under his guidance. Eventually, he was discovered by Misbun Sidek, a famous, former Malaysian badminton player who inducted Lee Chong Wei into the national team in 2000. From there on out, Lee Chong Wei entered multiple international-level competitions and brought home proud achievements.

He is happily married to Wong Mew Choo since 2012, who was his teammate and fellow badminton rival before. They began dating in 2009 and have two sons together, named Kingston and Terrance.

Career Achievements

Lee Chong Wei is anything but short of achievements in his badminton career. He has achieved 69 career titles, and has a whopping 713 wins throughout his career.

https://twitter.com/LeeChongWei/status/1306114105791504384?s=20

We have listed some of the highlights of his career below!

2003

  • Reached his first final of a major tournament, the 2003 Malaysia Open.

2004

  • Won two titles, the 2004 Malaysia Open and the Chinese Taipei Open
  • Managed to qualify to compete in his first Olympic games, the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, but was unfortunately defeated by Chen Hong of China during the second round.

2005

  • Won his second Malaysia Open, and achieved the title for the Denmark Open.
  • Made his first appearance in the World Championships held in the USA, and managed to secure a bronze.

2006

  • Secured the title for the Swiss Open and Asian Badminton Championships
  • Achieved two gold medals during the Melbourne Commonwealth Games.
  • Ranked at the top spot in the Badminton World Federation’s world rankings.

2007

  • Won the Philippines Open, the Japan Open, and the French Open.

2008

  • Reached the finals in the 2008 Olympic Games, but was defeated by Lin Dan from China.
  • Achieved seven consecutive wins at the National Badminton Grand Prix, breaking his coach, Misbun Sidek’s previous record.
  • He was ranked first for the worldwide rankings in August 2008, and went on to hold this position for 199 consecutive weeks. Collectively, he reigned first for a total of 348 weeks. For that, he received a World Record Award from the BrandLaureate.

2009

  • Won the titles for Malaysia Open, Indonesia Open, Swiss Open, Macau Open and Hong Kong Open.
  • Appointed as the National Goodwill Amba­ssador for United Nations Children Fund (Unicef) Malaysia

2010

  • Won his first All England Open title
  • Won gold at the Commonwealth Games
  • Won a silver medal at the Asian Games

2011

  • Won the All England Open title for the second time, even defeating Lin Dan.

2012

  • Played in the London Olympic Games 2012 and reached finals, but lost to Lin Dan.
  • Won the title for the Japan Open and Denmark Open.

2013

  • Broke the record of most Malaysia Open titles won by winning his ninth title.

2015

  • Won the US Open and Canada Open

2016

  • Defeated his long-time rival, Lin Dan during the Olympic semifinals and proceeded to finals.
  • Awarded the honorary title ‘Datuk Wira’ in Malaysia by the state governor of Malacca.
  • Led the Malaysian contingent during the 2016 Olympic Games’ opening ceremony.

2018

  • Won all matches in the Thomas Cup.
  • Won the Malaysian Open for the 12th time.

Where is he now?

After 19 long years of hard work and an extensive list of achievements, Lee Chong Wei finally decided to retire after receiving unfortunate news of being diagnosed with nasopharynx cancer. He announced his retirement on 13 June 2019, despite putting hopes that he would be able to compete for Malaysia that year.

His retirement came as a shock to everyone, but was given full support by fellow Malaysians and his past rivals. Malaysians offered kind words, thanked him and offered tribute for all his hard work. Lin Dan, his main rival and friend, expressed his sadness in losing a companion at the playing field, sharing a song “Don’t Cry, Friend” on his blog. Lin Dan has also retired recently, and Lee Chong Wei took to Facebook to write a heartfelt post.

He now lives with his family in Kuala Lumpur, and says he is focused on spending more time with his children. Most recently during the pandemic lockdown, he set up a makeshift badminton space for his children to spend time with him by teaching them badminton.

He has also turned down offers for the role of national coach as he highlighted he wanted to focus on his family and charity work.

He quoted, “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.”.

His current net worth is said to be $16million, making him one of the richest athletes in Malaysia.

Surely, his legacy will always be remembered, by both Malaysians and badminton fans worldwide. You can stay updated with Lee Chong Wei by following his social media!

Twitter: @LeeChongWei
Instagram: @leechongweiofficial
Facebook: @leechondweiofficial

Source: Lee Chong Wei’s autobiography, Dare to be a Champion, published in 2012.

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