Chou Tien Chen Finds Happiness with Thailand Masters Badminton Championship After Battling Cancer

Conor Hudson

Wed Feb 14 2024

Chou Tien Chen
Thailand Masters
cancer survivor

Chou Tien Chen, former world number 2 badminton player, has revealed his efforts to regain his form after battling cancer and dropping in the world rankings. However, he celebrated with joy after clinching the men's singles title at the Thailand Masters, an event that top players like him often skip.

After a 62-minute final match, Chou Tien Chen emerged victorious against Singapore's Loh Kean Yew with a score of 62, 21-16, 6-21, 21-16. Overwhelmed with emotions, he laid on the court, covered his face with his hand, and screamed in a mix of relief and elation. Commentator ELTA TV Tsai Hui-min commented, "He is truly enjoying this moment. It's tough to win a match after having to manage physical fitness and change tactics as he did today."

A quick scene of Chou Tien Chen's physical therapist, Kao Min-shan, praying at the sidelines after the victory showcased that something special was unfolding. In a post-match interview, the 34-year-old veteran revealed that the true significance of this Super 300 title victory stemmed from being diagnosed with early-stage colorectal cancer the previous year.

Chou Tien Chen acknowledged the challenges his cancer treatment presented for maintaining top form as the former world number 2. During his rest period in early 2023, he realized he hadn't undergone a health check-up in 2-3 years, prompting him to seek medical attention. After an endoscopy, he was diagnosed with cancer and immediately underwent surgery to remove a portion of his colon.

"In fact, another doctor I saw at that time felt that the cancer was not severe and advised me to come back for a check-up a year later. However, I didn't see the point in that, so I decided to have surgery," Chou Tien Chen shared. To prevent the spread of cancer, the doctor had to remove more of Chou Tien Chen's intestine than usual, requiring the use of an absorbable clip to assist the wound healing process.

"Perhaps because I have done enough good deeds, I witnessed God's glory, or maybe because I haven't done enough, so God allowed me to realize this early and live a little longer to do more," joked Chou Tien Chen, a Catholic, regarding his condition. Online Christian Daily reported that he was baptized in 2012, at the suggestion of Kao Min-shan, after going through a decline in performance.

Just one day after his surgery, he boarded a plane to continue competing overseas. Although the surgery didn't significantly affect his training, Chou Tien Chen had to control his diet and take some time to recover from the shock of being diagnosed with cancer. He maintained a strict training regime, disciplined daily routine, and healthy eating habits, stating that he never thought he would get cancer.

It's no surprise that the previous year was a slump for Chou Tien Chen. Out of the 28 tournaments he participated in, he only reached the semi-finals three times or went further, never making it past the round of 16 in other tournaments. It wasn't until the Super 300 Hylo Open in Saarbrücken, Germany, in early November last year when he clinched his sole title of the year.

The resulting drop in form caused Chou Tien Chen's world ranking to slide from 5th to 14th. "I think there is very little we can do. I always remind myself that I have overcome this path before without any titles, and I have overcome cancer surgery, so I can definitely overcome this difficult phase," he said.

After winning the Hylo Open, Chou Tien Chen spoke publicly for the first time about his spiritual journey of battling cancer at a church event in the same month. He believed it was time to let more people know about this. "I realized that nothing I have now is obvious, and I should not feel complacent because everything is achieved through perseverance," Chou Tien Chen affirmed. "I hope I can encourage myself and inspire others by letting them know that they can surely find a way out, even in the face of failure or adversity."

Chou Tien Chen's triumph at the Thailand Masters after battling cancer serves as an inspiration for athletes and individuals alike. His determination, resilience, and unwavering faith have enabled him to overcome adversity and return to the badminton court at the highest level. As he heads back to Taiwan to celebrate the Lunar New Year, he plans to continue his journey in Europe, participating in five tournaments starting from February 27th.