PETALING JAYA: Former great Lee Chong Wei may not be in a position to become Lee Zii Jia’s coach but he intends to do one thing – be his motivator.
And yesterday, the three-time Olympic Games silver medallist Chong Wei provided timely support for his successor by encouraging Zii Jia to find ways to regain his confidence and rise up from a difficult period in his career.
The 24-year-old Zii Jia has slumped to frustrating defeats at the start of the season after losing in the early rounds of the Malaysian Open, Indian Open and Indonesian Masters without a coach to guide him.
And to add salt to injury, news are surfacing that the world No. 2’s separation with coach Indra Wijaya had ended on a bitter note.
Chong Wei pointed out that he did not want Zii Jia to head the same way as Kento Momota of Japan.
The two-time world champion has not been the same player since a car accident in Malaysia in 2020 and after losing early at home during the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2021.
“Momota is struggling to regain his confidence and I don’t want another good player like Zii Jia to experience the same,” said Chong Wei.
“I know Zii Jia is experiencing a difficult time right now, but he has my support all the way,” said Chong Wei.
Chong Wei knows how it feels to be in a deep pit, having gone through lows in his career like injuries, doping issues, and cancer.
“I’ve been there... it can be lonely and one can easily lose focus,” he said.
“I want to see Zii Jia do well and so do all the other former players. We want what is best for him and to see him make the country proud.
“I want to encourage him to forget about all the past early round defeats and start from scratch again, especially with the Olympics qualifying season around the corner.
“I’ve no idea what has transpired between him and his former coach (Indra) but he has to settle all the outside distractions that can affect his form on court first. I just hope he will not lose the interest to play.”
Chong Wei however, pointed out the importance of having a coach.
“I’ve trained under many coaches. The national body will choose the coaches and the players will follow whatever these coaches bring in. If I feel like I need extra training or a change in the programme, I will discuss with the coach,” he said.
“I agree that players do most of the work in training but one can’t go on without a coach. Even top stars in tennis have coaches... and it’s the same with all the sports.
“Coaches can be good motivators too and they are able to analyse matches.”
Asked whether Chong Wei would consider being Zii Jia’s coach, the 12-time Malaysian Open champion laughed and said in jest: “For now, all I can do is to motivate him to achieve greatness. He can.”