KUALA LUMPUR: National number one men's singles shuttler Lee Zii Jia revealed on Wednesday (Jan 26) that he had been considering turning professional since last year.
The 23-year-old, who hails from Alor Setar, Kedah, said this came about after his inconsistent performance in three tournaments in Thailand, starting with the Yonex Thailand Open, followed by the Toyota Thailand Open and the Badminton World Federation (BWF) World Tour Finals that were all held in Bangkok last January.
"I asked (myself) if this is the end? But my coaches told me that this was a process I had to go through. I then made a final decision to quit the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) after our trip to Europe at the end of last year,” he said in an interview with pay-television station Astro Arena today.
World number seven Zii Jia also confirmed that he would form his own team, which will be based in Malaysia, as a professional player, besides promising to give his commitment to representing the country in major tournaments such as the Thomas Cup, 2022 Asian Games and 2024 Paris Olympics.
"When I tendered my resignation letter (to BAM), I was prepared for the worst-case scenario of not being allowed to play for two years. But I never thought of changing my citizenship status or going overseas,” he said.
On Friday (Jan 21), BAM announced that they would not register Zii Jia for any tournaments for a period of two years effective from Jan 18 after the 2019 SEA Games champion tendered his letter to quit BAM on Jan 11.
However, BAM president Tan Sri Mohamad Norza Zakaria on Tuesday (Jan 25) gave Zii Jia the green light to turn professional after accepting his appeal and holding discussions with the lanky shuttler. - Bernama