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Lee Chong Wei, Malaysian badminton star, eyes return from nose cancer

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Lee Chong Wei, a badminton silver medalist at the last three Olympics, hopes to return to competition next year and at a fifth Olympics in Tokyo after a full recovery from early-stage nose cancer.

“I love badminton. More important is my health,” Lee said in a news conference in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday. “Just recover first. How doctors say I can come back to the court, when I come back, I want to come back.”

Lee, 36 and Malaysia’s most decorated Olympian, said he recently finished about two months of treatment in Taiwan and resumed light training.

Malaysia’s badminton federation first said in July that Lee was suffering from a respiratory related disorder, withdrawing from the world championships and Asian Games in July and August. It said in September that Lee was diagnosed with nose cancer.

“When I knew I had cancer, I couldn’t stop crying for nearly a week. … I have never cried so much in my life,” Lee said after 33 rounds of treatment, about five or rounds per week, according to the New Straits Times. “This was the biggest battle of my life. … After three weeks of proton therapy, I found it so hard to eat, and my wife, who had to feed me, cried every time.”

Lee lost the last three Olympic finals to Chinese — to Lin Dan in 2008 and 2012 and Chen Long in 2016. He also lost four straight world championships finals to Lin and Chen from 2011 to 2015. He also served an eight-month steroid ban in 2014 and 2015, stripping his 2014 World silver medal, but a panel said he did not intend to cheat.

“I cannot say 100 percent I can come back,” Lee said. “I must see how my body [feels]. This is my dream, to play last track for me in one and a half years from now.”

Danish and Japanese men won the last two world titles, ending a Chinese streak of 11 straight Olympic and world titles between 2006 and 2016.

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Asian Games include competitors ages 9, 81

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A 9-year-old skateboarder is entered at the Asian Games, a quadrennial multi-sports event with many Olympic sports and Olympic champions that starts this week in Indonesia.

So is an 81-year-old bridge player.

Skateboarder Aliqqa Novvery Kayyisa of Indonesia is currently younger than any competitor in Olympic history. The 4-foot-3-inch, 73-pound athlete was featured on the nation’s version of “Little Big Shots” last year, skating while wearing a tutu.

Skateboarding debuts at the Olympics at Tokyo 2020, when she will be younger than all but three Olympians, according to Olympic historians — 1896 gymnast Dimitrios Loundras of Greece (10 years) and 1932 British figure skaters Cecilia Colledge and Megan Taylor (both 11).

Skateboarding does not have a published age minimum in its qualification rules for the 2020 Olympics. World Skateboard has not responded to a question on whether there is an Olympic age minimum in the sport.

Lee Hung Fong, an 81-year-old Malaysian, is also entered in the Asian Games. But she will definitely not be competing at an Olympics, as bridge is one of many sports held at the Asian Games that is not on the Olympic program. She is one of several Asian Games bridge players 70 years or older.

Esports are also debuting at the Asian Games as a demonstration event.

(h/t @OlympicStatman)

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Six nations to make Winter Olympic debuts in PyeongChang

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Ecuador, Eritrea, Kosovo, Malaysia, Nigeria and Singapore will make their Winter Olympic debuts in PyeongChang.

The athletes:

Klaus Jungbluth Rodriguez, Alpine Skiing (Ecuador)
Shannon Ogbani-Abeda, Alpine Skiing (Eritrea)
Albin Tahiri, Alpine Skiing (Kosovo)
Jeffrey Webb, Alpine Skiing (Malaysia)
Julian Yee, Figure Skating (Malaysia)
Seun Adigun, Bobsled (Nigeria)
Ngozi Onwumere, Bobsled (Nigeria)
Akuoma Omeoga, Bobsled (Nigeria)
Simidele Adeagbo, Skeleton (Nigeria)
Cheyenne Goh, Short Track Speed Skating (Singapore)

The International Olympic Committee has short bios on most of the athletes here.

The most pre-Olympic attention fell on the Nigerian bobsledders, all former NCAA track and field athletes who trained bobsled in Texas.

One of Onwumere and Omeoga will not compete in PyeongChang since only one brakewoman is allowed to compete. The current Olympic entries list has Omeoga entered as Adigun’s brakewoman.

Nigeria owns 25 Summer Olympic medals, making it the third-most successful Summer Olympic nation yet to compete in a Winter Games (Cuba, Indonesia), according to Olympic historians known as the OlyMADMen.

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