'Leave it to BAM'

SHUTTLER Lee Zii Jia neither confirmed nor denied the rumours that he wants to leave the national team.

Yesterday, the 24-year-old told reporters at the Academy Badminton Malaysia (ABM) in Bukit Kiara that the announcement, if there is one, will be from the BA of Malaysia (BAM).

World No 7 Zii Jia, who reported for training, as usual, said: "It is not my place to comment on this matter. If there is an announcement, it will come from BAM.

"As a player, I want to play and perform, to produce results and make my country proud.

"If I were a rebel, you wouldn't see me in this training centre today (yesterday)," said Zii Jia.

On Monday, BAM called for an emergency council meeting.

While there has been no confirmation from the national body, it is learnt that the council had convened to discuss the future of the reigning All England champion, who seemed to have made up his mind to turn independent.

As an institution that has invested a lot of money into developing players from their junior years, BAM can ban a shuttler from competing as a professional if they decide to quit the national team prematurely.

This was the case with former players like Tan Chun Seang and Toh Ee Wei, though the latter rejoined the national team soon after being pardoned.

When probed further on whether he had tendered his resignation or if he was still a BAM player, Zii Jia took a long pause before replying: "As I had mentioned earlier, if I were a rebel, I would not be training here with my teammates today."

The Kedah-born also went on to say that he should not be compared to former world No 1 Lee Chong Wei, who until the end of his illustrious 20-year career remained loyal to BAM.

"Firstly, I am not Chong Wei. What he has achieved is totally different from me."

Meanwhile, on his targets for the year, Zii Jia said he will try to break into the world's top five and achieve podium finishes in major events, including the Thomas Cup, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and the World Championships.

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