Cancer survivor Lee Chong Wei sets date for return to badminton
Cancer survivor Lee Chong Wei is on the mend, and he wants to defend his Malaysian Open title in April.
The three-time Olympic Games silver medallist was diagnosed with early-stage nose cancer in September 2018.
But the 36-year-old is feeling fit again after receiving the all-clear from his doctors in January.
And now Lee has his sights set on his comeback tournament: his home championships.
Best men's badminton rally from Rio 2016
Best men's badminton rally from Rio 2016Best men's badminton rally from Rio 2016 with Lee Chong Wei and Chen Long
Lee had reportedly wanted to return at the All-England Open in Birmingham, Great Britain, in early March.
But his doctors overruled him, and now the Malaysian says he will wait for medical clearance before intensifying his training work in the build-up to the Malaysian Open.
"I must push myself slowly, and when the doctor gives me the green light, I will do my full training," he said.
Lee is the defending champion at the Malaysian Open, having defeated current world number one Kento Momota in the final last year.
And the veteran is already thinking several steps ahead. One big honour still missing from his trophy cabinet is an Olympic gold medal.
It comes as no surprise, that Tokyo 2020 is in Lee's sights.
"My target is to play in the Olympics for the fifth time," he was quoted by Malaysian press agency Bernama. He would be a few months shy of 38 if he makes it.
However, his time away from the sport has put his qualification in doubt.
No pressure from younger players
Each country gets a maximum of two athletes in each singles event if both are ranked in the world top 16, or one entry if they are ranked 17th and below.
Lee, a former world number one, is currently ranked 30th, behind compatriots Lee Zii Jia (28th) and Liew Daren (29th).
But write Lee Chong Wei off at your own peril.
He may be nearly 37, but Lee believes he will be able to overtake both Lee Zii Jia (no relation), who is 20, and the 31-year-old Liew in the rankings.
"Do not say I am not eligible.
"Whoever is good will get to play in the Olympics; that is fairer for all players," he added.
"From May, it is important for players to collect points for the Olympics and we cannot afford to take it easy. I believe it is the dream of all players to compete in the Olympic Games."