PETALING JAYA: Old and new stars Lee Chong Wei and Lee Zii Jia may be different in many ways but they have one common trait – their winning attitude.
And that has set them apart from the rest, says Datuk Misbun Sidek.
Misbun has coached the 38-year-old Chong Wei for a long time but in different stages of his career.
He was there when the four-time All-England champion Chong Wei just started as a rookie player in the early 90s and also guided him to win his first silver medal at the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008.
As for the newly-crowned All-England champion Zii Jia, Misbun was his coach when the former joined the back-up squad for two years between 2017 and 2018.
“They are different but they have the same determination in them that make them distinct from others, ” said Misbun.
“In one of the training sessions, Chong Wei asked me how many times I have won the national title, I told him six. He told me he wanted to win more than me. He went on to win ten, ” said Misbun.
“The same goes for Zii Jia, even in the back-up squad, he wanted to do more than others. He was motivated inwardly.”
Their playing styles, however, are different, said Misbun.
“Zii Jia has the height (1.86m) and right physique for the game. His parents are former national basketball players, so you know where he got his height from. His athleticism on court is impressive, ” said Misbun.
“He lacked the technical part of the game in the beginning and was quite erratic. He however, has improved so much. His weapon is his powerful smashes.
“Chong Wei is lightly-built, so he developed his physical condition from scratch and became one of the fittest players. He can run and not get tired, and he has a variety of tricks in his game. He has been so dominant for years.”
Misbun said in order for Zii Jia to last long like Chong Wei in the game, the latter has to believe in his strong points.
“Zii Jia has won a major title at the age of 22, he needs to believe in himself that he can achieve more. He should learn to use his strong points to his advantage, ” said Misbun.
“In Thailand (in January), Zii Jia played safe and was lifting the shuttle but in the All-England, he was aggressive and unleashed his explosive smashes. He needs to bring out this strong side of him all the time and that’s the hardest part, ” said Misbun.
“At this age too, he needs some guidance and encouragement. If not, his journey will be inconsistent and unpredictable.”
Misbun reminded that Zii Jia emerged champion in a tournament where top players from China, Indonesia, South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong were absent.
“Beating two world champions (Kento Momota of Japan and Viktor Axelsen of Denmark) is amazing and the world will now take notice of him. He will be the target in the next tournaments, ” he said.
“There’s much more that he needs to learn but I believe, if he keeps doing what he is doing now, the future is bright for Zii Jia.”
Men’s singles: Lee Zii Jia (Mas) bt Viktor Axelsen (Den) 30-29,20-22,21-9.
Women’s singles: Nozomi Okuhara (Jpn) bt Pornpawee Chochuwong (Tha) 21-12,21-16.
Men’s doubles: Hiroyuki Endo-Yuta Watanabe (Jpn) bt Takeshi Kamura-Keigo Sonoda (Jpn) 21-15,17-21,21-11.
Women’s doubles: Mayu Matsumoto-Wakana Nagahara (Jpn) bt Yuki Fukushima-Sayaka Hirota (Jpn) 21-18,21-16.
Mixed doubles: Yuta Watanabe-Arisa Higashino (Jpn) bt Yuki Kaneko-Misaki Matsutomo (Jpn) 21-14,21-13.