Updated: Saturday, 08 March 2014 01:24 | By Agence France-Presse

Lee hopes to play less to save his career

Lee Chong Wei, the world number one from Malaysia, has agreed that to prolong his outstanding career and to reach the Rio Olympics he will have to play substantially less.

Lee hopes to play less to save his career

Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei returns on August 11, 2013

Lee spoke about retiring this year after winning the Malaysian Open in January, because of the increasing strain on his body and his mind.

But now the 31-year-old badminton legend has agreed with former world number one Peter Gade, whose comments to AFP on Tuesday advised Lee to cut down his schedule if he wanted to play on.

"I saw what Peter Gade said and I think he is right. I must do that," said Lee, well aware that the Dane managed to compete at the highest level in men's singles till past his 36th birthday,

"Yes - it might be that I just do perhaps six tournaments next year," Lee agreed. 

"Lin Dan (the Olympic champion from China who is 30) already does this. I need to be allowed to do this also."

Since Lin won the Olympic gold medal in London he has been allowed to compete in very few tournaments, undoubtedly helping him stay fresh enough to win his fifth world title at Guangzhou in August.

Meanwhile Lee appears to have gone through at least three changes of mind as he agonises about what is best for his country and about what his body might still be capable of doing.

Originally he planned retirement after the 2012 Olympics in London, but after getting within a mere two points of winning Malaysia's first ever gold medal in any sport, he decided to see if another Olympics might be possible.

Then he was stretchered off with a bad attack of cramp at match point in a long and thrilling final of the world championships, and experienced further physical stress while winning his tenth Malaysian title seven weeks ago.

Afterwards he said: "I just cannot imagine how I would fare in three years' time," referring to the 2016 Olympic Games, and adding that retirement after the Asian Games at Incheon in September seemed likely. 

Now here at the All-England Open championships, where Lee is trying to win back the sport's oldest title, he painted a more hopeful picture of how to continue his career. 

"I have had Yonex to consider," he said, referring to his equipment contract. "But I think it will be all right with my sponsor."

He also agreed that life feels different now he has an eleven-month baby boy, and admitted he often plays under a lot of pressure, but suggested he welcomed both these things.

This was possible because his wife, Wong Mew Choo, a former world number seven ranked player, understands his situation well and is supportive.

"She is happy for me to try to play in another Olympics," Lee revealed. "She understands my life of sport. So I will try my best.

"And so yes, there is a chance that I'll continue".

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