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To be world’s best, you must be able to handle pressure, Chong Wei tells Zii Jia

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Lee Zii Jia hits a shot to France’s Brice Leverdez in their men’s singles badminton group stage match during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Musashino Forest Sports Plaza in Tokyo on July 28, 2021. – AFP photo

KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 20): National badminton legend Datuk Lee Chong Wei has this to say to men’s singles ace Lee Zii Jia: “To be the country and world’s number one shuttler, you must be ready to handle immense pressure”.

Chong Wei revealed that Zii Jia had met him first to get his view and advice before tendering his resignation letter to the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) and turn professional (independent shuttler).

The three-time Olympic silver medalist said Zii Jia, the reigning All England champion, admitted to not being able to handle the pressure, although he did not clearly state the kind of pressure he faced.

“I do not know the level of pressure in the BAM now as I am no longer with BAM. For me, last time, there definitely was pressure but it’s different for each individual… some can take the pressure, some can’t.

“As for me, I faced tremendous pressure but I turned it into a form of motivation. I felt it (pressure) but I used it to motivate myself to fight for the country. Different people, different ways (of handling pressure),” said Chong Wei when contacted today.

As someone considered an elder brother by Zii Jia, Chong Wei said he did not tell Zii Jia to quit or to stay with BAM as he did not want to influence the 23-year-old’s decision.

However, Chong Wei advised the world number seven to hold talks with BAM to come to an understanding that would create a win-win situation for both parties.

Chong Wei said that during his 19-year association with BAM, even he had differences with the national governing body, but they were resolved through discussions.

“Surely there will be times when certain issues will not favour us but we must learn to give and take… we may not be 100 per cent right all the time,” said the former world number one.

Commenting on the issue of pressure in sports, Chong Wei said it was something all world number one athletes faced.

He said it was difficult for any athlete to achieve world number one status, what more retaining it for a long period if they can’t handle the pressure that comes with it.

“It’s not just me, (Roger) Federer (tennis) and Tiger Woods (golf) also… it’s the same with all the sports. If we can handle the pressure, we have a better chance of reaching a higher level… to become world number one is extremely difficult,” he explained.

Meanwhile, another former world number one shuttler, Roslin Hashim, described Zii Jia’s decision as a bold move, adding that he (Zii Jia) must have a solid reason for making the shocking move.

“Surely he must have thought long and hard about it. I don’t view it as a wrong move… we must look at the overall situation and see what is the actual cause,” said Roslin.

Yesterday, BAM president Tan Sri Mohamad Norza Zakaria confirmed that Zii Jia had decided to quit the national governing body to become an independent player and that the shuttler tendered his resignation letter on Jan 11.

Mohamad Norza said that among the reasons cited by Zii Jia in wanting out was that he is not Chong Wei, can’t stand the pressure and wants to achieve what he wants on his own space and without (a life) that is constrained and regimented.

BAM are expected to announce their decision on the matter tomorrow (Jan 21). – Bernama