FORMER international Datuk James Selvaraj is not writing off men’s singles Lee Zii Jia just yet at this year’s Tokyo Olympics.
James believes Zii Jia has the potential of continuing Lee Chong Wei’s legacy and win a medal in Tokyo.
Former World No 1 Chong Wei won silver medals at the 2008 (Beijing), 2012 (London) and 2016 (Rio) editions.
James said the 22-year-old has the skills to go far but has to learn from Japan’s Kento Momota if he hopes to become a top player.
Momota, who is ranked No 1 in the world, is known for his determination and spirit, and the Japanese star is the hot favourite to win gold in Tokyo.
“Chong Wei had set the standard for Malaysia by winning silver in three consecutive Games. And it would look bad if our shuttlers do not return with a medal. Having said that, we have some hope in Zii Jia,” said James yesterday.
“Zii Jia has the skills to match others but needs to psyche himself up and maximise his potential to secure a medal. He needs to tell himself that ‘I can win a medal’.
“Momota is the undisputed favourite at the moment. Although he will only return in two months (following a recent surgery), he can win in front of his home crowd.
“Determination and spirit are important elements in sports, which our shuttlers lack.”
James, however, does not rate men’s doubles Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik highly.
According to him, the Malaysians will find it hard in Tokyo as the top three pairs in Markus Fernaldi Gideon-Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo, Hendra Setiawan-Mohammad Ahsan (both Indonesia) and Li Jun Hui-Liu Yu Chen (China) are a class above.
Besides them, Japan’s Takeshi Komura-Keigo Sonoda and Hiroyuki Endo-Yuta Watanabe along with Taiwan’s Li Yang-Wang Chi Lin are also a force.
“It will be tough for Aaron-Wooi Yik as the two Indonesian pairs are playing very well while other combinations from China, Japan and Taiwan cannot be taken lightly,” added James, who retired as Bata Primavera senior manager in December. K.M. Boopathy