Making tough decisions – Zii Jia and Sivasangari show the way

THIS week has been all about making difficult and good decisions. Let’s start with our controversial shuttler Lee Zii Jia.

Almost all of his decisions over the last two years have been out of this world and this week’s move to drop out of the Road to Gold may top it all.

In 2022, he walked out of the Badminton Association of Malaysia to begin his professional career amidst many challenges.

Then, he decided to go separate ways with his former coach Indra Wijaya of Indonesia and hired the capable Wong Tat Meng.

He turned down an offer to represent Malaysia at the Commonwealth Games and was the first to join a group of pros led by Viktor Axelsen to train in Dubai.

But his recent decision to reject the lucrative top-up services of RTG probably made eyes pop out the most.

Coming right under the purview of Youth and Sports Minister Hannah Yeoh, the programme was aimed at giving Olympic-bound athletes solid support from every aspect, including monetary perks.

Why did the world No. 11 Zii Jia turn his back on it then when all others are clamouring for it? After all, there is no catch – he does not have to wear any specific brand of shirt or equipment.

All he has to do is to maintain a top 10 ranking in the world.

Is it because he is unable to handle the pressure? It does not seem so as pressure is part and parcel of an athletes’ life and Zii Jia knows it the best after being thrown in extremely difficult situations.

Probably, Zii Jia does not want to be obligated as he may have to turn up for functions or attend events that could disrupt his training programme.

Or maybe he just does not want to use the taxpayers’ money as he wants to live up to his status as a true professional player.

Professional tennis players do not get a single cent from the government as they have to make their living from their own earnings.

While surprised with his unexpected decision, RTG’s coordinator Datuk Stuart Ramalingam and Datuk Lee Chong Wei say they would respect his chosen path. Former doubles star Tan Boon Heong said it was the players’ choice whether or not to be part of the RTG.

All of them are right. No one can force anyone to do anything against their will just to please others.

Zii Jia has chosen his own road to reach Paris in a bid to make his Olympic Games debut and he knows exactly what the consequences are. And whether he succeeds or not, he is fully responsible for it.

On the other court, squash darling S. Sivasangari also had to make a tough call to skip Deepavali with her family to be at the Singapore Open.

And her sacrifice and determination paid off as she stunned top seed Nour El Tayeb of Egypt in the second round to reach the quarter-finals.

Beating a top Egyptian player is a positive sign in her long journey to compete in the LA28 Olympic Games.

And one of the best decisions this week is probably made by the Football Association of Malaysia to keep coach Kim Pan-gon for another two years.

They have extended his contract on Thursday, the same day his Harimau Malaya boys showed spunk to make an astonishing comeback at the last minute to beat Kyrgyzstan 4-3 to win their opening Group D of the World Cup-Asian Cup qualifiers at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

The call to extend his stay will probably help us to see more positive results from our football team. Maybe a ticket to World Cup?

You cannot make progress without making decisions no matter how easy or hard it is – just hope that they are the right ones!

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sports box , Rajesh Paul ,


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