Zii Jia back to training camp, fully focused on BAC


KUALA LUMPUR – The country’s top men’s singles shuttler Lee Zii Jia (picture), who returned to centralised training camp today after a two-day absence, said he is fully focused on the task ahead at the Badminton Asia Championships (BAC).

The 24-year-old, who is set to leave for Manila, the Philippines tomorrow for the Asian showdown from April 26 to May 1, said his preparations had been going well since the centralised training commenced last Friday.

“I had a personal issue; that’s why I requested permission from BAM (Badminton Association of Malaysia, to leave camp). Yes, got permission. (Fellow independent players) Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi also did not turn up today, so I think there is no problem.

“I am here today, so it shouldn’t be a big problem. This is my first BAC, and it’s a big tournament. I definitely want to go all out,” he told reporters at the Akademi Badminton Malaysia (ABM).

The world number seven said all teams were expected to send their best players for the top-tier event, to flex their muscles well before the Thomas and Uber Cup finals in Bangkok, Thailand from May 8-15.

After the Manila tournament, the Malaysian shuttlers are expected to fly straight to Bangkok, where they will be having their final training camp ahead of the men’s and women’s world team championships.

Asked on BAM’s decision to name men’s doubles player Aaron Chia as Thomas Cup captain, Zii Jia, who was the skipper in the last edition in Aarhus, Denmark, said Aaron is a good leader.

“Aaron was the Badminton Asia Team Championships captain (in February). Of course, he is a good leader. BAM picked him for a reason, so we have to trust them,” said Zii Jia, who quit BAM weeks before the Asian team event to turn pro.

Meanwhile, BAM secretary-general Datuk Kenny Goh neither confirmed nor denied that the national body gave Zii Jia permission to skip two days of training, which included a simulation match on Wednesday.

“For now, we are very happy with the preparations. The time frame for the centralised training camp and tournament is all in order. So, we just want to focus on the preparations and trip to the Thomas and Uber Cups. That is our utmost priority now,” he said when asked on the matter.