Badminton great Lee eyes 2020 after Commonwealth hat-trick

GOLD COAST, Australia (AFP) – Malaysian badminton great Lee Chong Wei said he hopes to wring one more Olympics from his creaking body after signing off from the Commonwealth Games with a third singles gold yesterday.

The 35-year-old roared back from behind to beat India’s new world number one Kidambi Srikanth – a decade his junior – 19-21, 21-14, 21-14, after Saina Nehwal saw off fellow Indian P.V. Sindhu in the women’s final.

Lee, approaching the end of one of badminton’s great careers, remains without an Olympic gold, but he said he hoped to have one more shot at Tokyo 2020.

He said he will not be back at another Commonwealths, and when asked by AFP if he would go for gold in 2020, Lee replied, “I don’t know, year to year I will play first because now I’m very scared of injuries.

“After this year finishes I will see in the second year and if I can keep fit, I will play in Tokyo 2020.

Gold medallist Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia poses with silver medallist Srikanth Kidambi of India (left) and bronze medallist England’s Rajiv Ouseph after the badminton men’s gold medal match at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. – AFP

“If not, I think I will stop.”

An overcome Lee collapsed on his back with his hands over his face as he made it a Commonwealth hat-trick to add to a trophy haul that also includes three Olympic silvers.

But he predicted a bright future for Srikanth, who only reached the top ranking on Thursday and beat Lee in the mixed-team final to seal gold for India.

Srikanth went some way to justifying his lofty ranking as he raced ahead 21-19 in the first game of the final on Australia’s Gold Coast.

Lee, currently ranked seventh in the world, stormed back in the second to take it 21-14, then stepped up another gear to clinch the decider by the same emphatic score.

In the tense, all-Indian women’s final, Delhi 2010 winner Nehwal grabbed her second gold against the Rio 2016 silver medallist Sindhu.