Wuhan: Badminton’s world number one Lee Chong Wei was put out for up to a month with a torn ankle tendon at the Thomas Cup in Wuhan Tuesday, casting serious doubt over his Olympic title bid in London.
“It is a torn ankle tendon, not a rupture. He will be out for about three to four weeks,” said Tey Seu Bock, Malaysia’s singles coach. “He will go back to Malaysia as soon as possible for another MRI scan.” “It is still OK for the Olympics,” Bock said, adding that Lee was “more upset about not contributing to the team at the Thomas Cup.”
But with the London Games starting in July the injury is a major blow to Lee’s preparations, already hampered by a shoulder problem, a bout of influenza and a series of disappointing results this season.
Lee landed awkwardly after going two points ahead in his match against Denmark’s Peter Gade. Doctors rushed onto court but the tearful player was in visible pain as he was taken away for scans and treatment at a nearby hospital.
Head singles coach Rashid Sidek said they had considered flying Lee immediately back to Malaysia from the tournament in China for treatment, a sign of how seriously they were taking his condition.
“We are jinxed at the Thomas Cup,” said Bock, referring to the event in 2006 when Malaysia lost their team captain Wong Choong Hang in a similar incident in the quarter finals.
The player, once ranked tenth in the world, snapped his Achilles tendon and was put out for six months. When Lee went down on the court in Wuhan, Bock said the memories of 2006 came flooding back, “but when I saw Lee’s toes moving, I knew it couldn’t be as bad.” The injury scare is the latest in a run of problems to hit Lee as he aims to win gold at the London Olympics after his arch-rival Lin Dan beat him in Beijing four years ago.
At the India Open in April, Lee was stunned in the final by the unseeded South Korean Wan Ho Shon, who beat him in a three-game, 66-minute thriller.