With his recent battle with a life-threatening disease, one would think that Malaysian badminton legend Lee Chong Wei would have had a shift in his priorities; spend less time on the court, and more time at home.
However, it looks like he might have decided to subsitute his racquet for some family time for good.
The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) confirmed on Wednesday that the 37-year-old will not be taking part in the Sudirman Cup in May.
Considering that he just recovered from nose cancer, it's totally understandable if he needed more time to make his way back onto the court.
However, The New Straits Times
reported that the BAM has not registered the former world number one for any Badminton World Federation (BWF) tournaments after May.
Why is it a big deal?
LCW has always stated that he would like to take part in his fifth Olympics campaign next year, but if he doesn't play in a tournament by 14 August, he would lose his designated and protected ranking of World No 3 (77,383 points).
The protected ranking would allow him to access all the top-tier tournaments on the World Tour, which is crucial for his Olympics qualification. He's currently ranked world number 73.
The one-year Olympic qualifying period comes into effect in May, so with him pulling out of the Sudirman Cup which is set to take place on 19 May, it is very likely that he will be skipping the New Zealand Open (taking place on 30 April) and the Australian Open (4 June) as well.
The next competition that offers Olympics ranking points is the Canada Open (2 July), but BAM has confirmed that they have not signed LCW up for that tournament yet.
What that means is, not only will LCW have fewer tournaments to choose from, he would have to come back in top form and beat all the younger, faster and better players that have dominated the sport since his absence.
It will be a tall order for LCW, who last played in a tournament in July last year, as the BWF will only consider the best 10 results from the BWF World Tour, and they will only provide a maximum of two spots per country if its players are ranked in the top 16.
What can he do now?
If he's not fit to take part in the Australian Open, he still has a chance to rack up some Olympics qualifying points at the US Open (9 July), Indonesia Open (16 July), Russian Open (16 July), Japan Open (23 July), Thailand Open (30 July), Hyderabad Open (6 August) and the Akita Masters (13 August).
As mentioned above, LCW does not have a wide margin of error as he needs as many points as he can get if he wants to qualify for next year's Tokyo Olympics.
However, it is a little bit difficult to earn points when he's not registered for any tournaments beyond May, and time is running out.
So, is he officially retired then?
No one really knows for sure.
Datuk Ng Chin Chai, the secretary general of the BAM, told The New Straits Times that it is up to LCW to decide on his future and the association will support his decision no matter what.
“For now his health is more important than badminton. We want to let Chong Wei make his own decision following his doctor's advice.
“If he can come back before August, all is well and good, but if he cannot, BAM will always stand by him because even for us, his health comes first,” he was quoted by the daily as saying.
It's going to be four very long months, guys. Let's hope LCW can make a comeback and finally win a gold medal for the country.