KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) –
Badminton star Lee Chong Wei said Tuesday he could make another tilt at Olympic glory in 2016 after Malaysia’s top gold-medal hope fell at the final hurdle for the second straight Games.
Lee, who will be 33 by the time the Olympics are held in Rio de Janeiro, came within two points of securing Malaysia’s first ever gold medal on Sunday in London but lost in a gripping match to long-time nemesis Lin Dan.
Lee had hinted before the contest that he might retire and badminton players rarely continue at the top in their 30s.
But he was quoted saying right after the match he would play for “at least two more years” and told hundreds of fans on his arrival back home in Malaysia on Tuesday that 2016 was a possibility, the Malaysian Insider news portal said.
“If there are no injuries, I will try for 2016,” it quoted Lee saying as he arrived to an early morning welcome by hundreds of fans, some of whom had waited for up to four hours at Kuala Lumpur’s airport.
Lee said he would first focus on the Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar next year and the Commonwealth Games in Scotland in 2014, before making a final decision on the Olympics, the report said.
Malaysia has won five Olympic medals but never gold, and Lee, for a long time the world number one, was again its greatest hope to finally bring that drought to a glorious end.
Lee is Malaysia’s most successful Olympian with two silver medals, from the Beijing and London Olympics, and is the biggest sports star in a country where badminton is hugely popular.
A visibly crushed Lee tweeted an apology to the nation over falling short for the second time, but Malaysians have responded with an outpouring of sympathy and praise for the 29-year-old.