Legend Gade offers Lee a warning
Peter Gade of Denmark serves the shuttlecock during an exhibition match prior in Tokyo on September 23, 2012 - by Kazuhiro Nogi
The 31-year-old Malaysian hopes to regain the All-England Open title this week, but has talked of relinquishing an attempt at another Olympic medal at Rio de Janeiro in 2016 and of retiring this year.
That would disappoint millions of Malaysians and countless others everywhere, who hope Lee might have another shot at winning his country's first gold medal in any Olympic sport.
Gade has a view which might make this possible. Lee cannot compete as frequently as he has been and must either take a break or stop, says the former world number one from Denmark, who knows more about prolonging a singles career than any other player in the world.
Gade competed longer than anyone at the highest level, retiring soon after the London Olympics at the age of 36, many years beyond that of any other leading player.
"Lee Chong Wei is giving it everything and he will feel 'how far will I want to go'", Gade said. "He will want to push whatever he's got for his body and his mind.
"But to be on top form and produce good results week after week is extremely difficult, and you won't see many athletes doing that. So I have a lot of respect that he is playing most of the tournaments. He is also playing his best when he plays.
"Lin Dan is in a different situation - where he can make choices," Gade added, referring to the exceptional Chinese player who overcame Lee in the last two Olympic finals and who competes only occasionally these days.
"Lin Dan is acting differently. I am not saying one player is wise and one is not wise. It's just that one is in a position where he can avoid the need to play tournaments.
"Lee Chong Wei may feel he has to play them. He will see if he can hold up for every event. That makes a difference in big matches: it affects your physical edge, motivation and energy.
"Lin Dan's response is wise. I know many people say he should play more tournaments, but there is a reason why he doesn't," Gade said, meaning that aiming for semi-finals and finals in every tournament would be tough for Lin too. He too will turn 31 this year.
Gade speculates on the influences which cause Lee Chong Wei's fuller schedule. "Maybe it's sponsors, a lot of different elements, pressure from association, and other pressures - I can't say for sure from the outside," he said.
"I won't say too much about that, but I do know what Chong Wei is doing is extremely tough, on the mind and the body. At some point he has to pull back and say 'either I stop or take a break'."
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