Shuttler Zii Jia eyes world title

by BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR – National shuttler Lee Zii Jia (picture) is dreaming of lifting the men’s singles title at the 2021 BWF World Championships in Spain this December.

Zii Jia, who returned home recently after crashing out of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, said it would be a proud moment for him should he make history by becoming the first Malaysian to win the world title.

“Of course, all players aim to win the World Championships because it is one of the biggest tournaments. It’ll be an honour for me if I can become a world champion,” he said at a virtual media conference today.

Zii Jia missed the chance to advance to the quarter-finals at the Tokyo Olympics when he lost 21-8, 19-21, 5-21 to eventual silver medallist Chen Long of China in the round of 16 at the Musashino Forest Sport Plaza.

Asked what are his plans next, the 23-year-old Zii Jia said he won’t be taking a break and would instead resume training once his quarantine period ends so as to be prepared for the various major tournaments, including the Sudirman Cup in Finland next month and the Thomas Cup in Denmark in October.

On his overall performance in the Tokyo Olympics, the world number eight admitted that he was far from satisfied with his display at the world’s biggest multi-sports Games.

He said that he had picked up many invaluable lessons and experience in his Olympic debut, especially on how to handle pressure better on the court.

The Kedahan cited 2016 Rio Olympics gold medallist Chen Long as an example, saying the Chinese shuttler used his vast experience to deny Zii Jia a place in the last eight at the Tokyo Olympics when he bounced back from a first-game defeat to easily win the next two games.

“Chen Long won because he used his vast experience to overcome the pressure, especially in the second and third games when he seemed so calm. Added to that, he also became more confident and that made me panic… there’s definitely a lot for me to improve on after this,” he said.

Meanwhile, national men’s singles head coach Hendrawan admitted that he was worried after watching Zii Jia give his everything in the first game against Chen Long as it allowed the Chinese ace to avenge that loss and completely control the next two games.

As such, the Indonesian-born coach hopes that Zii Jia would learn from the lesson, adding that he is confident the shuttler would shine in future tournaments.   

While advising Zii Jia to continue to battle with his own demons, Hendrawan said the shuttler still needed time to reach the necessary maturity level and that he (the coach) planned to work on further enhancing the shuttler’s technical and fitness levels.