PETALING JAYA: National badminton legend Lee Chong Wei has challenged newly-crowned All-England champion Lee Zii Jia to create history by winning more.
The 38-year-old hoped Zii Jia would not settle for just one title, especially after having claimed his maiden crown at 22.
Chong Wei can only witness in awe as Zii Jia won the prestigious All-England title in just his second appearance.
It took Chong Wei six attempts, including reaching three semi-finals and one final, before he finally succeeded in 2010 at the age of 27.
He then went on to add three more titles (2011,2013 and 2017) from the five finals to join Wong Peng Soon and Eddy Choong as the most successful Malaysians with four titles each in the men’s singles competition.
Chong Wei hopes Zii Jia will be able to surpass their record.
“Let’s hope there will be more to come from Zii Jia, just to think that he conquered his first All-England title at 22 is simply amazing... I didn’t win mine until I was 27!” said Chong Wei.
“We don’t want this to be his sole All-England victory in his career.
“I hope he won’t be contented easily but will try to win more in future. He’s still young and has so many good years left in him.
“Records are meant to be broken. I certainly hope he will be able to match or break our four-title record at some point of his career.
“That’s what every ambitious athlete should do, motivate yourself by taking aim at something.”
Chong Wei was also quick to credit coaches Hendrawan and Datuk Tey Seu Bock for Zii Jia’s remarkable turnaround after the latter came under fire for his lacklustre performances during the three-tournament World Tour stops in Thailand in January.
Not only did the two coaches help him to rediscover his confidence, Zii Jia’s overall game has also gone one notch up.
“I think Hendrawan and Seu Bock have done a tremendous job, I believe they both played a big part in Zii Jia’s comeback, ” said Chong Wei.
“He’s so solid both for attacking and defence, and his net play is fantastic. It’s so delightful to watch.
“He also played with lots of confidence, which is definitely the key.”
Being one of the medal hopefuls at the Tokyo Olympics, Zii Jia’s superb display has surely put the smile on Chong Wei’s face as the national contingent chef de mission.
However, while it does augur well for the Tokyo Games, Chong Wei believes it is still not the time yet to discuss Zii Jia’s chances of winning a medal on his debut.
“At the Olympics, it’s always anybody’s game. We have seen how dark horses have risen to the occasion in the past, ” said Chong Wei.
“But as much as I and the entire nation want to see him bring home a medal, let’s not give him unnecessary pressure.
“I think Zii Jia himself will aim for a medal and I have no doubt he will do his very best.”