Lee Chong Wei offered Malaysian mentorship role

National sports ministry hopes three-time Olympic silver medallist can "ultimately contribute to Malaysia's first gold medal in the Games" and mentor new talents like Lim Chong King.

By Rory Jiwani ·

Lee Chong Wei's retirement last month was a shock to badminton fans across the world.

The 36-year-old had returned to training after treatment for nose cancer, but quit after doctors told him he should not carry out "high intensity activities".

But Chong Wei could remain in the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) set-up to help guide the next generation of shuttlers.

The country's Youth and Sports Ministry wants the former world number one to help develop the skills of younger athletes, saying his services were "sorely needed".

"I'm confident his aura, advice and guidance will inspire other young athletes to continue serving the nation and ultimately contribute to Malaysia’s first gold medal in the Olympic Games." - Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman speaking to national news agency Bernama

Lee Chong Wei: Olympic highlights

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Past, Present and Future

Lee Chong Wei spent most of his career fighting a one-man battle against China's dominance of he sport.

It was a task he performed admirably, holding the world number one spot for 378 weeks, 199 of them consecutively.

He was honoured for that achievement last week in Kuala Lumpur, and expressed his wish that a compatriot would follow in his footsteps.

"I am very hopeful that the player who breaks my record will be a child of Malaysia." - Lee Chong Wei on Twitter

Chong Wei won 69 tournaments, and was a three-time beaten finalist at both the Olympic Games and World Championships.

Since announcing his retirement, the four-time Olympian has already been appointed as his nation's Chef de Mission for Tokyo 2020.

And it sounds like he has a long list of projects ahead of him.

Syed Saddiq said that his offer to mentor young players at BAM would come after allowing him "some space and time to rest".

But he revealed that the ministry had been informed of Chong Wei's intention to "collaborate in the building of a badminton academy in Kedah".

The new Lee Chong Wei?

Daren Liew is Malaysia's current number one at 23 in the world rankings.

But the hunt is on for someone to replace Lee Chong Wei as a contender at major tournaments.

At last week's Malaysia International Series, Lim Chong King attracted plenty of admirers including national men's singles coach Misbun Sidek.

The 19-year-old right-hander was only promoted to the senior squad at the turn of the year.

But after his semi-final exit, to eventual tournament winner Soong Joo Ven, Misbun was quoted by the New Straits Times as saying, "Chong King not only has good physique, but great senses on court and is willing to go the extra mile during training.

"If he maintains this kind of attitude and performance until the end of the year, I see him being one of Malaysia’s top players in the future.

"This young boy has got potential and I foresee him having a very bright future. He reminds me of a young Chong Wei." - Malaysian men's singles coach Misbun Sidek on Lim Chong King

Unsurprisingly, Chong King idolised his countryman as a youngster.

He told Malaysia's Star newspaper, "I remember I was playing in a tournament when I was nine and at that time, Chong Wei was training in the same hall with us. I went up to him to get a book of mine signed by him.

"Since then I’ve been inspired by him and I just wanted to be like him. For coach Misbun to say that I can be like him makes me proud indeed."

Chong King also revealed his pleasure at training with the superstar in recent months.

"I had the chance to spar with Chong Wei a few times when he came back to train after his cancer treatment.

"Even though he had just returned, he was still so fast on court and I had difficulty trying to keep up with him."

"It was just an amazing experience as I never imagined I would get a chance to share the same court with him." - Lim Chong King on practising with Lee Chong Wei this year

Now it's time for Chong King to try and move up the rankings, but coach Misbun says he "needs at least three more years to build himself up".

Any knowledge Chong Wei can pass on from his long and illustrious career can only help in his development.