Kuala Lumpur – After coming in eighth in the world rankings following his success at the All England tournament, the country’s top men’s singles Lee Zii Jia is now eyeing a top-five spot by next year.
Zii Jia, who just celebrated his 23rd birthday on Monday said he hoped to maintain his momentum by producing consistent performances in upcoming tournaments.
“We will look into it step by step,” he said when met after the launch of the ‘Wall of Champions’ and the presentation of incentives at Academy Badminton Malaysia (ABM) here today.
Last week, Zii Jia climbed up two rungs in the world rankings to eighth in the world after earning 12,000 points in the All England tournament. He has collected a total of 69,389 points from 25 competitions in the ranking period.
Meanwhile, the player from Alor Setar, Kedah, said he was now much more mature in terms of dealing with pressure after his experience of bouncing back in the All England following an unsatisfactory string of performances in Thailand.
Earlier during the event, Zii Jia received an RM30,000 incentive from the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) for winning the All England, while women’s doubles pair Pearly Tan-M. Thinaah, who won the Swiss Open, received a winning bonus of RM15,000.
Zii Jia is expected to continue his preparations for the Tokyo Olympics scheduled to be held in July by participating in several tournaments including the Malaysian Open from May 25-30, and the Singapore Open (June 1-6).
BAM coaching director Wong Choong Hann, however, confirmed that Zii Jia would not be participating in the Indian Open in New Delhi from May 11-16 due to the increase in COVID-19 cases in India and the quarantine requirements after returning home.
He said BAM would also continue efforts to reduce the gap between Zii Jia and the other players in the squad to build a formidable men’s singles team, especially to face team tournaments such as the Thomas Cup.
Choong Hann, who is also a former world number one said his goal was to ensure at least two players were in the top 20 of the world rankings.
“Actually, it is a process that we have been thinking about for some time now.
“We can see it (in the players) in terms of quality, but in terms of competition and the courage to compete, they need to take the opportunity to learn more. So I believe players like Ng Tze Yong and Leong Jun Hao can catch up with Zii Jia,” he said. – Bernama