SINGAPORE (AP) -- Lee Chong Wei needed to be philosophical after his return to the Southeast Asian Games for the first time in a decade ended with a loss to Indonesia in men's team badminton.
At least he's back in competition.
The former No. 1-ranked Lee, a two-time Olympic finalist, didn't contest the SEA Games when he was at the peak of his powers, but was keen to compete for Malaysia in the regional event as he works his way back from a doping ban with the aim of making the 2016 Olympics.
The 32-year-old Lee was confined to the team event, and made an early exit from the competition on Thursday when Indonesia rallied from 2-1 down to beat the Malaysians in the best-of-five semifinal match.
He easily won his opener against Cambodia, and his 21-19, 21-10 win over Indonesia's Firman Kholik gave Malaysia the lead after three matches.
Lee entered the SEA Games saying his only objective was to help the Malaysia team win. He's not entered in singles, and will have to return to the world circuit to improve a ranking that plummeted while he was sidelined from competition.
"I know a lot of people are asking why I have not played in the men's singles event," Lee said in comments translated from Bahasa Melayu. "I would like to, but I can't at the moment, because my world ranking has dropped to 79 today, and I need to accumulate as much points as possible to get back on track to qualify for the Olympics."
That will require playing in the U.S. Open and the Canada Open, and then trying to secure a spot in the badminton super series.
In April, Lee was given a backdated eight-month doping ban by the Badminton World Federation after testing positive for the prohibited substance dexamethasone at the world championships on Aug. 30. He said the source was likely the contaminated casing of a gelatin capsule containing a food supplement. At a BWF hearing, he accepted in April that he committed a doping violation, but said he did so inadvertently. The panel agreed, allowing him to return to competition but disqualifying Lee's runner-up result at the world championships in Denmark.
With his career in limbo for most of the year, it's little surprise that he isn't thinking about what may happen post-Rio de Janeiro 2016 -- despite the next SEA Games due to be staged in Malaysia.
"In two years, well, let's see my condition," he said. "The next SEA Games will be at home and that's a different and special feeling. So we will have to see."