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 on Sunday.
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 PV 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. 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 younger and higher-ranked Sindhu, the Rio 2016 silver medallist.
Nehwal, 28, a poster girl of Indian sport, saw off her rival 21-18, 23-21 and said the gold was up there with her London 2012 Olympic bronze and her number one world ranking in 2015.
“It was a pressurised tournament, a lot of top competition from the Malaysians, it was a very challenging tournament,” said Nehwal, who had heavy strapping on her right shin and revealed afterwards she had been playing through pain throughout the competition. Much more tough (than 2010) because the pressure is always there when you already have gold, so there is a lot more expectation. It’s a very emotional moment because I’ve been waiting for one good, big victory after that disappointing (second-round) loss at Rio where I had to retire because of my injury and had to go through surgery.”