KUALA LUMPUR - There is a chance for Lee Chong Wei to become the country's first world badminton champion on Malaysia's 57th Independence Day.
And that is the world No. 1's motivation in his race to get back on his feet for the World Championships in Copenhagen from Aug 25-31.
The final falls on the Independence Day and Chong Wei is determined to present the nation with the best gift. But the 31-year-old needs to recover quickly from his thigh injury.
Last Friday, Chong Wei decided to skip the Glasgow Commonwealth Games from July 23-Aug 3 after aggravating the injury. The next day, he took one of the first three stem cell injections to fast-track the recovery process.
Although the recovery and rehabilitation period will be tough, Chong Wei remains upbeat and hopeful.
"I picked up this injury before the Thomas Cup Finals but I kept pushing myself. The team needed me and I played on," said Chong Wei, who won all his matches en route to helping Malaysia finish as runners-up in New Delhi in May.
"Then, I went to play at last month's Japan and Indonesian Opens, and the pain became unbearable. According to the doctors, there is a tear and it will get worse if I don't get treatment.
"I gave up the chance to win the Commonwealth Games singles gold for the third straight time, but I'm not going to give up hopes on the World Championships and Asian Games (in Incheon in September).
Chong Wei said winning the world title for the first time would be his top priority.
"I have gone through injuries before. At my age, the healing process is harder. I'm staying positive. It will take four to five weeks to recover completely. After that, I will start by doing my upper body training," said Chong Wei.
In 2012, Chong Wei injured his ankle at the Thomas Cup Finals in Wuhan, China.
But after three months of rehabilitation, he displayed one of his best performances before going down to Lin Dan of China in the final of the London Olympic Games.
"I will take one day at a time. Ultimately, I want to do well at the World Championships.
"Malaysia will be celebrating Independence Day during that time and it will be truly great to celebrate it together as a world champion."
Chong Wei lost to his nemesis Lin Dan in the final of the last two World Championships. In
2011, he lost by two points (20-22, 21-14, 23-21) at Wembley.
In 2013, Chong Wei retired (21-16, 13-21, 17-20) due to severe cramps in Guangzhou, China.
This time, there is a strong chance for Chong Wei to nick it - provided he recovers in time - as five-time world champion Lin Dan failed to qualify.