KUALA LUMPUR: Dreams do come true. Just ask young shuttler Lee Zii Jia (pic).
The 19-year-old was a surprise last-minute entry in the squad for the Sudirman Cup in Gold Coast, Australia, from May 21-28.
He will leave for Australia today with world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei, Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin (men’s singles); Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong, Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi (men’s doubles); Goh Jin Wei, Soniia Cheah (women’s singles); Vivian Hoo-Woon Khe Wei, Chow Mei Kuan-Lee Meng Yean (women’s doubles); and Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing, Chan Peng Soon and Cheah Yee See (mixed doubles).
Zii Jia, the 2016 world junior championships bronze medallists, was promoted to the senior team this year.
“I was shocked when I first heard the news, but I’m proud that I made the cut. This will be the first major tournament in my badminton career,” said Zii Jia, who reached the final of the Thailand Masters and the Dutch Junior in March last year.
“I’ve dreamt about this moment ... and it has come true.”
Zii Jia hopes to gain as much experience as possible – although he may not get a chance to play in any of the ties in Australia.
“I’ll observe the top players and pick up pointers from the seniors. Just being with the team is a wonderful experience.
“I’ll surely come through this experience as a better player,” he said.
Zii Jia was recently adjudged the fittest men’s singles shuttler following fitness tests carried out by the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) this year.
“This is my first year in the senior team and everything is a learning experience for me.
“It will get tougher, but I’m motivated to be a better player,” said the lanky Zii Jia, who also hopes to make the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games from Aug 19-30.