Zii Jia needs to toughen up mentally to face Viktor, Yuqi at Olympics,says ex-player James

Keep up the great run: Lee Zii Jia has been advised to beef up his physical and mental preparations for the Olympics. — AFP

PETALING JAYA: Former great Datuk James Selvaraj believes that mental preparation will be key for men’s singles shuttler Lee Zii Jia in his quest to win a medal in the Paris Olympics.

With the Olympics just six weeks away, Zii Jia is shaping up nicely after making it into the final in three out of his last four tournaments.

The world No. 8 captured the Australian Open title on Sunday to go with his Thailand Open crown last month and finished runners-up to reigning Olympic champion Viktor Axelsen of Denmark in the Malaysian Masters.

In the Indonesian Open, Zii Jia reached the quarter-finals before going down to Thailand’s world champion Kunlavut Vitidsarn.

Now, the 26-year-old’s attention will turn fully towards his preparations for the Olympics and James has advised the independent player to toughen up his mental game.

“Mental preparation is very important in the Olympics. Zii Jia needs to believe in himself if he hopes to succeed,” said James.

“He also has to work with his coach (Wong Tat Meng) and come up with the best strategies against his potential opponents.

“Whether he wins the gold or not is a different matter but he needs to prepare himself as best as he can and be ready when the competition starts.”

James has also urged Zii Jia to build on his positive showings of late.

“It’s good that he won the Australian tourney as this will boost his confidence. His win also ensures that he will remain in the top eight in the world rankings and will be seeded in the Olympics,” said James.

“There’s definitely some improvement in his game under Tat Meng’s guidance. He has done his homework well and pushed Zii Jia to a different level.

“But there’s still work to be done as the Olympics is a completely different tournament.

“Many top players will be there like Axelsen and China’s world No. 1 Shi Yuqi. Both did not play in Australia.

“I believe these two players will be Zii Jia toughest opponents in Paris. There are also others who could play the role of spoilers,” added James.

Yuqi is one of the favourites for the gold after overtaking Axelsen in the top of the rankings following back-to-back title wins in the Singapore and Indonesian Open earlier this month.

The Dane might not be at his dominant best this year but will also not give up on his crown without a fight.

While anticipating a tough task for Zii Jia, James has urged the Kedahan to focus on his recovery after an exhausting past few weeks and to avoid injuries leading up to the Olympics.

“Zii Jia has played quite a lot of tournaments and needs to recover well now,” said James.

“He must be very careful during these few weeks, avoid injuries and maintain his fitness. It’s important to be at full strength both physically and mentally to do well in the Olympics.”

Besides Zii Jia, Malaysia will also be represented in the showpiece event by Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik (men’s doubles), Pearly Tan-M. Thinaah (women’s doubles), Chen Tang Jie-Toh Ee Wei (mixed doubles) and Goh Jin Wei (women’s singles).

The badminton competition in the Olympics will be held from July 27-August 5.

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Badminton , Lee Zii Jia , Paris Olympics


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