World No.7 Lee Zii Jia quits Malaysia national team due to pressure

The decision taken by the Malaysian ace was confirmed by Badminton Association of Malaysia president Norza Zakaria.

Lee Zii Jia quit national team (Picture: BWF/Twitter)
By Samrat Chakraborty | Jan 20, 2022 | 2 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

World No. 7 Lee Zii Jia has decided to part ways with the Malaysian national team and continue as an independent shuttler, the Badminton Association of Malaysia president Norza Zakaria confirmed. It is understood that he took the decision due to the immense pressure on him to fill in the big boots of Malaysian legend Lee Chong Wei. Jia was seen as the successor of the national team stalwart and he did his part by winning the prestigious All England Open last year. However, the 23-year-old, saw a major drop in form recently as he lost to China’s Chen Long at the Olympics and retired with an injury in the world championship quarter-finals.

Zakaria asserted that the apex body tried hard to make him stay because he performed well in the past but his decision to quit stayed final. “We see Zii Jia as an asset and we tried to persuade him (to stay) because we have groomed him since he was 13,” he was quoted as saying by The Star newspaper.

“Now that he has reached this stage, winning the All England, we certainly didn’t want to lose him because he has a bright future.”

“However, he told us that he’s no Lee Chong Wei and he cannot cope with the pressure,” added Norza.

The youngster had earlier said that it would be the country’s apex body that will make the final call as he only wants to focus on his training. 

“At this point, I’m not in place to comment anything further about this, BAM should be the party to make the official announcement,” he told Malaysian media. 

“As a player I’m just focusing on my training, to produce good results and make my country proud. I am not a rebellious kid, otherwise, you wouldn’t have seen me still training here today,” he added. 

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World number one Viktor Axelsen of Denmark, meanwhile, voiced support for Lee’s decision.

“If a player… feels it’s best for him to follow another path where he is more independent as a player, then that is what he should do,” tweeted the Olympic gold medallist. “It’s his career and his life after all.”

Malaysia have been a dominant force in badminton and Chong Wei, who retired in 2019, has only added to the stature of his country. He has been a three-time Olympic silver medallist but Jia never liked the comparisons and always cited that he is the first of his kind.