KUALA LUMPUR: Another year brings another disappointment for Lee Zii Jia at the World Championships.
The 25-year-old began with a flourish in Copenhagen, effortlessly outplaying world No. 5 Jonatan Christie in the opening round.
Buoyed by the win, Zii Jia didn't hide his ambition to pursue the coveted world title, aiming to become the first Malaysian men's singles player to achieve this feat.
But the world No. 13's journey was cut short in the third round on Thursday, meeting his match in Denmark's Anders Antonsen. The Malaysian lost 21-18, 21-17
The result signifies no improvement for Zii Jia in the prestigious showpiece compared to his more successful runs in Basel 2019 and Huelva 2021, where he reached the quarter-finals.
However, Zii Jia, who was ranked as high as world No. 2 in January this year, remains convinced that he can still draw some positives from this tournament, especially considering his recent struggles.
"I tried everything I could, and this is the result. I have to accept it. As I always said, this is part of the process. Yes, it's tough, but you go through it," he told SPOTV.
"At least I can still beat one of the top 10 players. It means I can be one of them again one day, just got to take a little more time to get there and be patient."
Just how much time Zii Jia needs to reach the pinnacle remains uncertain. One thing is certain, however, time waits for no one.
Since his breakthrough win at the All England in March 2021, he has struggled to maintain consistent results, barring the consecutive victories at the Asia Championships and the Thailand Open last year.
Zii Jia will have to wait another two years for another chance at the world title. The world meet is not held during the Olympic year.
Furthermore, there is no guarantee that he will qualify for the 2024 Paris Games unless he delivers top-tier performances over the next eight months.
Following his early exit from the world meet, his spot in the Youth and Sports Ministry's Road to Gold programme could be in jeopardy
Zii Jia's fate will be determined when the RTG committee conducts its quarterly review next month.