KUALA LUMPUR: Sometimes, less is better than more.
It’s with this mindset, national coach Hendrawan plans to cut down tournaments for world No. 13 Lee Zii Jia (pic) to get him ready for two major tournaments – Thomas Cup Finals in Aarhus, Denmark (May 16-24), and Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan (July 25-Aug 9).
Since Hendrawan took over the role as Zii Jia’s coach last year, they hardly spent solid time in training.
“He has been busy competing in tournaments, the most we had training without interruption is two weeks.
“My plan is to have a little bit more time in training with him, ” said Hendrawan.
“He had to go for many tournaments in the past as he needed to improve his world ranking. He is as good as assured for the Olympic Games. So, I’m now looking at cutting down some of the tournaments for him at the later stage.”
In Hendrawan’s plan, Zii Jia will only take part in one tournament next month – the Asia Team Championships in Manila, the Philippines, from Feb 11-16. He will then compete in the German Open (March 3-8) and All-England (March 11-15).
He will skip the Opens in Switzerland, India and Singapore but will see action in the home tournament – the Malaysian Open from March 31-April 5.
Hendrawan has not decided whether Zii Jia will participate in the Asian Championships in Wuhan, China, from April 21-26. The Asian meet is the last Olympic qualifying tournament but the venue could be changed depending on the status of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan by then.
“The Olympic qualifying ends in April. After that, I want Zii Jia to focus on his preparation for the Thomas Cup Finals and Olympics. Zii Jia may not be in the same standard as Lee Chong Wei now but I want to prepare him so that he will give his opponents a good fight.”
With more time in his hand with Zii Jia during training, Hendrawan wants to make the sparring sessions interesting.
“I’ll bring in former players like Soong Joo Ven, Liew Daren to spar with him. I’m also looking at training in Thailand, ” said Hendrawan.
“We’ll spend considerable time working on strategies and mental preparation too. I’ve discussed with Zii Jia over the longer training period, he has agreed to it although this will be something new for him.”
Meanwhile, on BAM president Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria ‘s challenge to Hendrawan to push Zii Jia to top five in the world rankings before the Olympic Games, he said: “I’ll wait for the official meeting to discuss about the new role and duties for me. For now, I’m unable to comment about it.
Norza, who heads the management committee, plans to promote Hendrawan as the chief coach of the singles department in an official meeting next week. The spot is vacant following BAM’s decision to move the current elite team chief Datuk Misbun Sidek to the national junior team as the new supremo.