Kuala Lumpur – The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) have taken the sensible approach of not putting additional pressure on 2021 All England champion Lee Zii Jia to deliver a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics in July.
BAM president Tan Sri Norza Zakaria said it was too early to set such a lofty target for Zii Jia as their aim actually was to get the 22-year-old and his teammates to go for gold at the 2024 Olympics in Paris, France.
“Looking at the improvement made by Zii Jia, of course we want him to continue to do his best and, at least, try to win a medal in Tokyo.
“We do not want to put undue pressure on him because I think every player dreams of winning the gold or any other medal at the Olympics, especially in Tokyo,” he said on Bernama TV’s Podium 360 programme with Hilmy Ashley.
World number eight Zii Jia emerged as the All England men’s singles champion after a pulsating 30-29, 20-22, 21-9 win over defending champion Viktor Axelsen of Denmark at the Utilita Arena in Birmingham on Sunday.
Norza said that he was impressed with Zii Jia’s fighting spirit, especially by lifting the men’s singles crown at the world’s oldest badminton tournament to silence his critics following a mediocre start to the year.
He was also glad that Zii Jia, who is from Alor Setar, Kedah, did not let the continuous criticism affect him but instead used it as a lesson and a challenge to improve himself.
Meanwhile, Norza expressed confidence that women’s singles player S. Kisona would be able to rise again after a string of dismal performance so far this year, with the latest setback being her first-round exit at the All England, going down tamely 6-21, 7-21 to Thailand’s Busanan Ongbamrungphan.
He also believes that two-time world junior champion Goh Jin Wei, who has struggled with injuries for several years, would be able to show her mettle again when she competes in the women’s singles event in this week’s Orleans Masters Badminton Championships in France.
“We want our players to be at the highest level in the world and we hope that others will follow in Zii Jia’s footsteps so that we will continue to be a major force on the international stage,” he said. – Bernama