PETALING JAYA: National men’s singles shuttler Lee Zii Jia admitted that he has under-performed in recent times due to personal problems but has vowed to snap out of it.
The 23-year-old took to Instagram to vent his frustration yesterday – a day after losing to Jonatan Christie of Indonesia in the second round at the Singapore Open on Thursday.
He admitted he had struggled to cope with financial difficulties, lack of breakthroughs and unfairness – although he did not elaborate.
Zii Jia’s confession comes days after Lee Chong Wei stood up for the player touted as his potential successor by encouraging him to overcome his personal problems and stay focused on badminton.
“First of all, I would like to say sorry to my family and fans for letting them down with my performances recently,” said Zii Jia.
“I’m dealing with some problems that I believe many athletes go through as well – it’s about money and training breakthrough.
“I’ve encountered many difficulties in the past two years but I’ve somehow persevered and overcame them to get to where I am now.
“The higher I go in my career, I’m faced with more dilemmas and see many things done unfairly.
“I tried to deal with this unfairness but it affected my thoughts and performance in training.”
Without referring to anyone, Zii Jia said he never thought that the problems would be so complicated.
“Malaysian badminton isn’t just all wonderful as one thinks, it’s not that simple. So, to those who has no clue about what’s happening, please don’t simply criticise,” he said.
“As athletes, we’re also human. Sometimes we need time and space to solve our problems.
“I want to thank all those who have supported me and cared for me. I really don’t know how to face all of you but I promise I’ll turn things around.
“I’ll work harder over the next three weeks and return to the next tournament as a more mature and steady Lee Zii Jia.”
Zii Jia said he opened up on his Instagram because he wanted to come clean on the reasons behind his decline in form.
“There’s nothing to worry about. It’s just a statement to let the public know about my problems,” added the 2018 Taiwan Open champion.
He reached the quarter-finals in four tournaments this year before losing to Asian Games champion Jonatan in the Swiss Open first round and Malaysian Open second round.
Even Jonatan noticed Zii Jia’s poor form.
“I’ve played Zii Jia four times now, I think we know each other’s weaknesses and strengths – but he seemed to be under a lot of pressure in the last two matches,” said Jonatan on the Badminton World Federation (BWF) website.
“He is a good player but made lots of unforced errors. His spirit has been quite down in the last two matches.”