Lee Chong Wei began to learn badminton at the age of 11 when his father, who liked to play the game, brought him to the badminton hall. He attracted the attention of a local coach who began to train him after school. In 2000, then aged 17, Lee Chong Wei was discovered by Misbun Sidek who drafted him into the national squad.
In 2003, Lee Chong Wei reached the final of the 2003 Malaysia Open, his first final of a major tournament, but was defeated by China's Chen Hong. He gained a spot in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens but his journey ended in the second round when he was again defeated by China's Chen Hong. He was appointed as UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 2009.
In March 2006, Lee Chong Wei won Malaysia's 2 gold medals — men's singles and mixed team event — in the Commonwealth Games' badminton event. In 2008, Lee Chong Wei captured his 4th Malaysia Open title in 5 years. He helped Malaysia advanced through to the semifinal in the Thomas Cup in Jakarta, Indonesia. In 2008, Lee Chong Wei won the silver medal in the Olympic Games, thus becoming the first Malaysian to reach the final of the men's singles event and ending Malaysia's Olympic medal drought since the 1996 Games. In 2011, Lee Chong Wei cruised into the final of the All England Open for the 3rd consecutive time and retained his title successfully with a convincing straight games victory over Lin Dan.
On 18 January 2012, Lee Chong Wei's autobiography, Dare to be a Champion, was officially published. He started the year with the first Super Series tournament of the season, the Korea Open. In a repeat of the previous year's final, he avenged his loss to Lin Dan by defeating him in 3 sets. A week later, he captured his 5th straight and 8th Malaysia Open title, thus equalling the number of home titles held by Wong Peng Soon who won between 1940 and 1953. In March, however, Lee Chong Wei lost in the All England Open when he bowed out in the 2nd game, after receiving medical help on 3 occasions. This also dashed his hopes to become the first man in to win 3 successive All England Open title. Lee Chong Wei won the silver medal in the Olympic Games in August 2012, after losing out to China's Lin Dan.