Wiser Zii Jia vows to return stronger in Paris Olympics

Long shot: Chen Long hits a shot to Lee Zii Jia during the last-16 match at the Musashino Forest Sports Plaza. — AFP

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia’s singles shuttler Lee Zii Jia sums up his defeat to Chen Long as a wake-up call.

The 23-year-old has to wait longer for his next shot at Olympics glory after he failed to dethrone reigning champion Chen Long of China in the last 16 match at the Musashino Forest Sports Plaza yesterday.

He went down fighting 21-8, 19-21, 5-21 in 70 minutes.

The debutant took the painful defeat in his stride.

“It’s not the end of the world,” said Zii Jia. “It may not be a good result, but I think I have given my all.

“This is my first Olympics and it’s indeed an eye opening experience for me. Playing in the Olympics is nothing like the other tournaments.

“It surely is a good experience for me. It’s also a wake up call for me that there’s so much more that I need to learn and improve.

“I still have a long journey ahead. I will try to come back stronger for the Paris Olympics as a more mature and complete player.”

At first, the match looked as if it was for the Malaysian to lose.

He was in full control as he made sublime shots which left Chen Long clueless for most part of the opening game. He played confidently even after hurting his wrist in a fall in the game.

It wasn’t clear to what extent his hand was giving him problem because he had sought medical assistance.

In the second game, Chen Long swiftly opened up a 4-0 lead and changed the tempo of the game. It was Zii Jia, who had to play catch.

Undeterred, Zii Jia slowly fought back in stages and eventually caught up 19-19 and seemed capable of wrapping up the match in straight games but the experienced Chen Long held his nerves to force a decider.

The second game defeat had dealt a massive blow to Zii Jia’s spirit as he could not lift up his game.

While a pumped up Chen Long raced to a 5-0 lead, Zii Jia was making too many unforced errors. There was no turning back after that as Chen Long led all the way to set up a quarter-final meeting with Chou Tien-chen of Taiwan tomorrow.

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