Lee Zii Jia’s stunning performance at the All England has given the World No 13 shuttler the self-belief that he can become a world-beater and even win an Olympic medal in Tokyo.
In Birmingham, the 22-year-old was not expected to go far, but he defied the odds and defeated several top shuttlers, including Asian Games winner Jonathan Christie of Indonesia and reigning Olympic champion Chen Long of China, to reach the semi-finals.
Zii Jia was involved in a tight battle against Denmark’s former world champion Viktor Axelsen in the semi-finals before going down in three games.
In the past, Zii Jia often struggled to register a string of victories against top-10 players.
Although Zii Jia is not yet in the same league as the now-retired Lee Chong Wei, the Kedah-born is certainly showing huge progress and if given time, he might even do better than his predecessor.
The shuttler will win a medal at the Tokyo Olympics if he continues to grow as a player.
“Zii Jia finally showed his true potential here. We were just waiting for him to explode as he has been showing progress since last year,” said BA of Malaysia (BAM) coaching director Wong Choong Hann in Birmingham yesterday.
“His performance also gives the coaching team an indication that they are doing well.
“They now believe that they can guide him to the next level. He needs to continue working hard.
“We will need to prepare him accordingly as the season will take a break due to Covid-19.”
Zii Jia will use the break to iron out his game before the season restarts on April 12 depending on the progress of Covid-19.
As for men’s doubles Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik, they still lack consistency in big matches.
They were ousted in the quarter-finals at the All England.
“Aaron-Wooi Yik need to start beating higher-ranked pairs.
“It will be tough for them if they continue to lose against the top-six pairs in the world,” he said.
Choong Hann sees the temporary suspension of tournaments as an opportunity for the national shuttlers to work on their game.
“Shuttlers need to remain focused and train during the break. It is an opportunity for them to iron-out weaknesses,” he added.