KUANTAN: Badminton ace Lee Zii Jia had to withdraw from the Commonwealth Games due to a recurring injury, says Datuk Seri Ti Lian Ker.
The Deputy Youth and Sports Minister said Lee wanted to compete in the upcoming Games from July 28 to Aug 8 but decided to rest and recover after receiving medical advice.
"The injury occurred after the match in the finals of the Thailand Open but before he was fully healed, Lee went on to the Indonesia Open which caused his injury to recur and become more serious.
"This injury will be prolonged and have an effect on Lee's game in the long run if not treated and given enough time for full recovery," said Ti after opening the Speed Track Legacy go-kart centre here on Saturday (June 25).
Lee had announced that he would skip the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham to focus on the World Championships to be held in Tokyo from Aug 22 to 28.
Ti said the news was disappointing to Malaysians as the whole nation was really looking forward to seeing Lee compete and contribute a gold medal to the Malaysian contingent.
"However, we respect his decision and are of the view that Lee and his team have made a thorough assessment of his preparation and performance.
"His decision to focus on preparations for the World Championships at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium, Japan, is also for his own personal success as a badminton player and to bring glory to the country," he said.
Ti said Lee had already held a series of discussions with the National Sports Council on the matter, adding that the Ministry would always support any decision Lee makes to ensure that he could uplift the country's name at the international level.
"According to the initial plan, Lee was identified by the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) as one of the players in the national badminton team as having the potential to contribute a gold medal based on his current performance.
"The Ministry will hold discussions with BAM and the Olympic Council of Malaysia to review the target of two medals. I am also confident the other players will be able to take up the challenge to bring home the medals," said Ti.
He also asked Malaysians not to pass judgment on Lee's health without knowing all the facts.
"I have spoken to Lee. It's not about sacrificing the Commonwealth Games for the World Championships. It is about making a full recovery so there will be long-term glory instead of a short-term one," said Ti.
He said Lee would require at least six weeks to make a full recovery.