KUALA LUMPUR, June 14 — Malaysia’s badminton legend Datuk Lee Chong Wei last night recounted his journey to retirement on June 13 last year, describing it as a heavy but right decision.
“It was heavy, very heavy,” he said in a posting on his official Facebook and Instagram page in conjunction with a year of his retirement.
(Part 1) The decision has been made ten days ago. Together with DS @norzazakaria , we met at YB @syedsaddiq house and collectively agreed for my request to hang my racquet. They were solemn yet I managed to keep my emotions intact. It was heavy, very heavy. They were understanding, and I was grateful for that. They didn’t force me to play on. I simply couldn’t play anymore. Wife made us brunch. My kids and I monkeyed through the meal. We had fun. Then my personal friend cum assistant came. He passed me the script I would have to follow in the press conference. I tried to memorize. It was piece of cake. Even Kingston said ,” Wah papa, your BM and England better than me”. We laughed. After a long warm bath, I looked at the guy in the mirror, “Want to try one more time?” Then my sight gazed down to my neck and body. My body was so frail and thin. My muscles were jelly soft. The scar on my neck was so deep and dark after all the treatment. Opening the wardrobe, I took out the Yonex Tiger Stripes Malaysia Jacket, chosen as my press conference attire. Standing beside me Mew Choo pointed out ,” Do you still remember when we started playing professionally, the national shirt we had was the plain white shirt with Proton Tiger logo as its main print? Never knew 19 years later, you would end it with a tiger on your shirt as well”. She looked into my eyes. I couldn’t utter any word. She hugged me, whispered, “You have given your all”. Together we hopped on my friend’s car to Menara KBS. In the car, I was told worldwide media friends would attend the press conference. I took out the script, hoping to memorize one last time. My another hand? Clutching hard Mew Choo’s hand Suddenly my phone kept vibrating......
(Part 2) Suddenly my phone kept vibrating. My teammates. My relatives. My close friends. Words spread. They knew. I declined all their calls, trying to remain steady. I read their messages and heard their voice messages. Some cried. Some offered support. Many said thank you with pictures of me holding cups and the national flag. Met my ex coaches Datuk Misbun, Datuk Seu Bock, Hendrawan at the center. They patted me and the pack. The conversations were short. Been with me too long. They knew I was focusing, trying to keep my emotions intact. I simply didn’t want to cry in public. Not in front of millions of live Malaysian and international audience. Sat in between Datuk Seri Norza and Yb Sy Saddiq. I started off my speech. It was unimpressive. Facing the crowd, I didn’t remember the script at all, only relying on the key points to carry me through. Grammar out. Bahasa out. But I thought still okay. As long I didn’t crumble. Inside, I was trembling, shattering... Then, started to thank my coaches, my team. All a sudden, flashbacks of how I trained in Penang came first. Flashbacks of my early morning trainings, jokes and banters with teammates, the walks into the court, the shouts of ‘Lee Chong Wei” from fans, the emotions of standing on the podium looking at the Malaysian flag”. I couldn’t hold back. I teared. It has been a year. A year since I announced an end to my 25 years active badminton career span. It would never be the same for me again, but I think I still made the right decision. After all, I have given my all, my best, although sometimes the best may not be good enough
Chong Wei admitted to struggling over whether to retire until the moment he decided to call it quits, with a bit of help from his wife.
“After a long warm bath, I looked at the guy in the mirror, ‘Want to try one more time?’ Then my sight gazed down to my neck and body. My body was so frail and thin. My muscles were jelly soft. The scar on my neck was so deep and dark after all the treatment (for cancer),” he said.
However, the three-time Olympic silver medallist and former world number one said his wife Wong Mew Choo gave him a lot of strength to deal with the difficult situation.
“She (Mew Choo) looked into my eyes. I couldn’t utter any word. She hugged me, whispered, ‘You have given your all.’
“In the car, I was told worldwide media friends would attend the press conference. I took out the script, hoping to memorise one last time. My other hand? Clutching hard Mew Choo’s hand,” he added.
Recalling the press conference, Chong Wei said he had forgotten all the script that was supposed to be spoken and only remembered the important content.
“It has been a year. A year since I announced an end to my 25 years’ active badminton career span. It would never be the same for me again, but I think I still made the right decision,” he added.
The Penang-born player hung up his racket for good, with 69 international titles, including 47 from the Superseries circuit, earning him the right to be called the “King of the Superseries”. — Bernama