Malaysian badminton great Lee Chong Wei has confirmed he has recovered "very well" from early-stage nose cancer and is all set to start training as early as next month.
Addressing the media for the first time since he was diagnosed with nose cancer in July, the 36-year-old rubbished speculations of a possible retirement and said he will fight on to fulfil his "dream" of making a fifth summer Olympic appearance at the Tokyo Games in 2020.
The news of Chong Wei's ailment sent shockwaves across the badminton fraternity. The former world number one was forced to withdraw from Asian Games and World Championships earlier this year.
The three-time Olympic silver medalist underwent treatment in Taiwan and returned to Malaysia on October 7. Several high-profile members of the Malaysian sporting fraternity, including Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, visited the badminton superstar and gave positive updates on his recovery.
Chong Wei insists he is not even thinking of retirement and that he is hoping to make a professional comeback to the tour at next year's All England Championships, starting March 14 in Birmingham.
"I finished all my treatment... and have recovered very well. I want to come back to (the) court. As of now, I am not retiring," Chong Wei was quoted as saying by Straits Times.
"This [Playing in Tokyo Olympics] is my dream. But health is most important. I just try my very best because I love my country... and I love badminton," the world number eight added.
Chong Wei had reportedly lost five kg during the treatment period in Taiwan. However, the veteran shuttler has already begun working on his fitness in a bid to make an early comeback to the tour.
It remains to be seen if the seasoned campaigner can hit peak form in the lead up to All England Championships, wherein he has tasted success four times.
Nonetheless, Chong Wei is known for his fighting spirit that saw him return to the top of BWF rankings in 2016, just 13 months after he was handed an eight-month doping ban.
Chong Wei's ability to dominate the men's singles field was questioned in 2016 when he suffered a freak accident while training in the lead-up to All England Championships that year.
However, the Malaysian great shut his critics down by making an earlier-than-expected recovery and eventually going to win his fourth title in Birmingham.