KUALA LUMPUR: It’s a dark day for Malaysia’s No. 1 singles shuttler.
Probably, as that’s the message that world No. 7 Lee Zii Jia (pic) intends to send out as he changed the background of his profile pictures on his social media accounts, including on Instagram and Facebook, into plain black colour immediately after it was announced yesterday that he would be barred from competing.
Zii Jia chose to stay mum after the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) served a cruel blow by making a decision not to register their blue-eyed boy for all the Badminton World Federation (BWF) tournaments for the next two years.
The lengthy punishment certainly dealt Zii Jia a cruel blow as he’s unlikely to return in time for the one-year Olympic Games qualifying period which begins from the middle of 2023 by the time he finishes serving the suspension – unless some drastic measures are taken, like moving his base out of Malaysia.
It’s obvious that the 23-year-old is unhappy with the decision but he can take heart with the overwhelming support shown by his close and loyal friends.
Former international Koo Kien Keat and several other Denmark players took to social media to back Zii Jia.
Zii Jia thanked his fellow All-England champion and former international Koo Kien Keat for the encouraging words he received on his Instastory which stated: “Everyone gets to choose his or her own path, there’s no right or wrong decision nor the best decision in life.
“Every decision you make today will be part of your experience in the future.
“Looking forward to witnessing your future endeavours with the tenacity, positivity and showmanship that you have shown us as a true Malaysian. Thank you for the contributions and great impact that you have made for the country.”
Denmark’s men’s doubles ace Kim Astrup also made his disappointment felt with a post on Instagram: “Don’t know the details of this case which makes it difficult to make a statement. But it is as simple as @leeziijia simply wanna try to find his own path and do what he thinks is best for his career, and still gets a two-year ban from playing international tournaments... then I’m extremely disappointed in the direction badminton is heading.
“How can it be illegal trying to reach your dreams and goals?”
Danish veteran singles shuttler Hans-Kristian Vittinghus also reacted furiously when he tweeted: “Our sport is such a joke sometimes!”
Many fans vented their frustration and anger at the BAM for not putting the interests of the nation first.
“I suggest that Zii Jia play for a country that appreciates his talent and decision. Not for a country that blocks your development. Go to Singapore and become like Loh Kean Yew,” said The Star online reader.
Said another fan: “Shame on Malaysia. Is this the way they treat and threaten our potential player?”