Malaysian badminton legend Lee Chong Wei understands why the nation’s top ranked current player, Lee Zii Jia has opted to skip donning the national kit for July’s Commonwealth Games in England.
Current world number five Zii Jia shared a video with local journalists explaining that he will not be participating in the Birmingham event that begins on 28 July as he aims to be at his best for the BWF 2022 World Championships in Tokyo from 21 to 29 August.
Chong Wei, who delivered three men’s singles gold medals for the Asian country at the Commonwealth Games and captained the squad to two more mixed team titles, pointed out that the recently-turned independent is free to choose the tournaments he plays in.
“Zii Jia is a professional… it’s entirely up to him to play for the country or not. He’s not bound to any national team assignment,” – Lee Chong Wei to New Straits Times
The 24-year-old Zii Jia shared that the grueling World Tour calendar, which sees him play four tournaments in the space of five weeks in Asia, has played a part in his decision.
“I have decided not to play in the Commonwealth Games, and it is a tough decision, which I made after speaking to my team,” Lee shared with The New Straits Times, adding “I have been playing non-stop and need to take take care of my body condition.”
“I want to be in my best condition for the world meet.” Lee Zi Jia to The New Straits Times
READ MORE: Lee Zii Jia reveals plans as he targets first world title
Aiming to peak at the World Championships
Malaysia has yet to produce a world champion across any of the five disciplines. Chong Wei made the final four times, but was denied on all occasions by either Lin Dan or Chen Long from China.
At his last two world championships campaigns, Zii Jia made it as far as the men’s singles quarter-finals on both occasions. He retired from his match against Anders Antonsen in Huelva 2021, while he was convincingly beaten by Momota Kento at Basel 2019 in straight sets.
But a lot has changed since then. Momota is no longer the invincible player that saw him clinch back-to-back world titles, while Lee has been gaining momentum this season by winning the Asian Championships as well as the Super 500 Thailand Open.
Currently at a career-high ranking of world No.5, this edition at Tokyo has the potential to yield his best result yet at the World Championships.
While Zii Jia’s decision to skip the multi-games event in Britain does make tactical sense from an individual perspective, Chong Wei also pointed out that as a member of the national squad all throughout his career, his duty to the county always took precedence over the pursuit of individual glory.
“As a national player, I was obliged to represent the country in the major multi-sport games, a duty which I gladly fulfilled. The Olympic Games will always be the top of the priority, followed by the Commonwealth and Asian Games.”
“I personally see the Commonwealth as a very prestigious games because it’s held once every four years. It’s a big honor to be able to win gold to add to Malaysia’s medal tally.” – Lee Chong Wei to New Straits Times
28 Jun – 03 Jul
Badminton | Petronas Malaysia Open | Kuala Lumpur