Zii Jia's decision to skip Birmingham 2022 comes back to haunt him

Malaysia's men's singles Lee Zii Jia
26/08/2022 07:10 PM

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 26 (Bernama) -- It looks like national men's singles shuttler Lee Zii Jia's decision to skip the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games to prepare for the World Badminton Championships has come back to haunt him.

In fact, everything he has done since then has come to nought.

Just one week after announcing his decision to ditch the Commonwealth Games, he suffered an early second-round exit in the Malaysia Open 2022 when he went down 19-21, 21-19, 16-21 to Shesar Hiren Rhustavito of Indonesia at the Axiata Arena in June.

Then, with almost two months to gear up for the world meet in Japan, he still came up short when he was stunned 19-21, 21-11, 19-21 by China's Zhao Jun Peng in the third round of the prestigious tournament at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium yesterday.

Former national shuttler Roslin Hashim feels that world number five Zii Jia had wasted a golden opportunity to prove that his decision to withdraw from the Commonwealth Games was right by getting bundled out in the third round in Japan.

"I am not disputing Zii Jia's decision to pull out from the Commonwealth Games and several other tournaments, including the Malaysia Masters, because he knows his condition better, but seeing how he could only go as far as the third round (in the world meet), then I consider it a failure.

"Zii Jia need not offer up any more excuses… he did not have a very tough route to the final and even desired to win the world title, instead he crashed out early,” he told Bernama.

As such, Roslin hopes that the 2021 All England champion can accept criticisms with an open heart and not choose to "rebel”.

Commenting on yesterday's game, Roslin said one could see that Jun Peng was fully prepared to take on Zii Jia while the Malaysian clearly seemed to be playing under pressure, especially when the China shuttler bounced back from the first-game defeat.

Another former national shuttler, Ong Ewe Hock believes that Zii Jia must use the disappointment in Japan as a lesson to do even better in the future.

He said Zii Jia must not give up but, instead, continue to remain strong, including accepting all the criticisms levelled against him.

Ewe Hock, however, admitted that perhaps Zii Jia still needs time to get used to his decision to go professional after quitting the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) early this year.

“Just give him more time to digest (all that has happened). I believe he needs time to get used to the current situation (of turning professional).

“He has also had to deal with a lot of pressure from the media and fans, but I just hope he will keep going, do well and play his normal game in the future,” said Ewe Hock.

Meanwhile, Malaysia's chef de mission to Birmingham 2022, Gerard Monteiro has advised Zii Jia to rethink his strategy as a professional player so that he can bounce back from the latest setback.

"Regarding Zii Jia, I don't know whether he failed or not (in Tokyo) because I believe he was under a lot of pressure. But I feel so sad for him and the whole country is also disappointed,” said the Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM) president.

Gerard had previously expressed his disappointment and shock at Zii Jia's decision to skip the Commonwealth Games 2022 as the shuttler was one of Malaysia's gold medal prospects at the quadrennial Games in Birmingham.