After 19 years as a professional badminton player, Lee Chong Wei will be putting down his racket for good.
Retired for health reasons
Lee confirmed his retirement at a packed press conference in Putrajaya in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on June 13, 2019, reported The Star.
His announcement was not unexpected, considering the 36-year-old Malaysian had not played competitively since July 2018 after he was diagnosed with nose cancer.
During the press conference, Lee revealed that choosing to stop playing professionally was a "tough decision", but that a May consultation with doctors "left him with no option".
Lee had to stop playing, or potentially suffer a relapse of his cancer, according to The Straits Times.
He added that his condition made him unfit to carry out high intensity activities.
"I was given eight questionnaires to answer about my conditions and the outcome came out to show that I'm not fit to do high intensity activities. So it's not suitable for me to exert myself for the sake of my health."
Lee then got emotional, thanking the various people who helped him throughout his career with tears in his eyes.
"I want to thank you Malaysians.
I want to thank a lot of people KBS (Malaysia's Ministry of Youth and Sports), ISN (National Sports Institute). I want to thank all my coaches Datuk Misbun Sidek, Datuk Tey Seu Bock."
One of the world's best male singles shuttler
Lee has racked up an impressive list of accolades as a professional badminton player, and is one of the world's best shuttlers in the men's singles category.
Lee has spent a whopping total of 349 weeks ranked as world No. 1, and had clinched 69 singles titles throughout his career.
He has also accumulated 715 wins to 139 losses.
Unfortunately, Lee has never managed to win the ever-elusive world or Olympic titles—thus far he has won three Olympic silver medals and three runner-up medals at the World Championships.
Lee had previously made clear his desire to compete one last time in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, after he was cleared from cancer following treatment in Taiwan.
As a result of his hiatus, he is currently ranked 191 in the world.
Said Lee, choking up and in tears.
“I fought for my country all the way."
You will be missed, Lee Chong Wei.
You can watch Lee's full announcement during the press conference here:
Top photo from Stadium Astro / Youtube and Professional Shuttler / FB