Zii Jia in two minds

National No. 1 undecided over playing for country or self

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia’s preparations for the Thomas Cup Finals has been hit by the possibility that top singles shuttler Lee Zii Jia might skip the tournament.

World No. 10 Zii Jia is thinking of prioritising his preparations for the Paris Olympics in July over competing in the prestigious team meet from April 27-May 5 in Chengdu.

National coaching director Rexy Mainaky, who held discussions with Zii Jia’s sister and manager Lee Zii Yii and coach Wong Tat Meng, disclosed that Zii Jia is still undecided on his participation in the tournament.

“Zii Jia has not made a decision on whether he will compete in the Thomas Cup or not,” said Rexy after meeting with Zii Yii and Tat Meng at the Academy Badminton Malaysia (ABM) in Bukit Kiara yesterday.

“The Olympics is quite close to the team meet this year and he is focusing on breaking into the world’s top eight by July.

“He has many tournaments coming up like the Asian Championships (April 9-14), Malaysian Masters (May 21-26), Singapore Open (May 28-June 2), Indonesian Open (June 4-9) and Australian Open (June 11-16) and it will be quite a heavy workload for him together with the team meet.

“I had a discussion with Zii Yii and Tat Meng regarding this and nothing is finalised yet.

“The deadline to submit the names for the Thomas Cup is April 13 and we still have some time to decide.

“We need to find a solution that suits both parties best. If he decides to play, we could manage his matches during the tournament,” added Rexy.

It will be a huge blow for Malaysia if Zii Jia decides not to compete in the team meet especially with the country’s No. 2, Ng Tze Yong yet to fully recover from back surgery.

Rexy though was confident that Tze Yong, who is currently ranked No. 18 in the world, will be ready for the tournament.

“Tze Yong is still careful not to push himself too hard in training but his movement is getting better,” said Rexy.

“There is still nearly a month to go before the team meet and he should be ready by then.”

The other singles players that are in contention to be named in the team are world No. 37 Leong Jun Hao and youngsters Justin Hoh and Eogene Ewe.

Malaysia have been placed in a tricky group along with Denmark, Hong Kong and Algeria in the competition.

Only the top two teams will progress to the quarter-finals.

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Badminton , Lee Zii Jia , Thomas Cup , Chengdu


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