KUALA LUMPUR, March 22 – It was a glorious victory and a glorious chapter for, both, Lee Zii Jia and Malaysian badminton when the 22-year-old lifted the much sought-after men’s singles title in the prestigious Yonex All-England championships – the oldest badminton tournament in the world.
On the way to the title, Zii Jia took down two of the top badminton players in the world – World No 1 Kento Momota of Japan in the quarter-finals and defending champion and No 2 Viktor Axelsen of Denmark in the final.
Momota, who went into the match with a 6-1 lead in seven previous meetings against the Malaysian, fell to a 16-21, 19-21 defeat. Axelsen went into the match with a 3-1 win-loss record against the Malaysian but it was all laid to rest with Zii Jia coming out tops with a 30-29, 20-22, 21-9 win for the biggest win in his badminton career which earned him his biggest paycheque (USD59,500)
The victory could reshape his badminton career. One win does not make him a star but he is certainly a star in the making if he keeps his feet firmly on the ground after winning the HSBC BWF World Tour Super 1000 event.
Zii Jia should use the victory as the stepping stone of better things to come from the national No 1 who celebrates his 23rd birthday on March 29. The success in Birmingham is an early birthday present.
Victory did not come easy but Zii Jia did put in enough hardwork to overcome his flaws. His game at the All England showed his true badminton capabilities but it is just the beginning.
He was a flop in the Yonex Thailand Open, the Toyota Thailand Open and the 2020 World Tour Finals in Bangkok early this year.
 Let us not forget the All England was without players from China, Hong Kong, Chinese Taipei and South Korea. At the same time, the Indonesian team was forced to withdraw because of Covid-19.
International media reports on ‘sports politic’ in BWF.

Zii Jia you have something in your game that has left Momota and company in awe – your backhand smash. That is your weapon which others don’t have.

Let’s not forget there are many others who made Zii Jia’s All England win possible and they should not be left out. They should be recognised and given due credit for their work – credit where it is due.
In typical Malaysian ”style” there are many who will jump on the bandwagon of success. There are many glory seekers who would want to share a piece of the cake. They only appear during success.
Enjoy the moment of glory but at the same time let us not glorify Zii Jia’s victory beyond limits.
Let’s not forget 2003 – the year when Hafiz Hashim won the All England – a year after winning the Commonwealth Games men’s singles gold medal in Manchester.
Hafiz was given a grand welcome in Kuala Lumpur and also when he returned to his hometown Kota Bharu. Badminton fans may still remember the “Tanjak” placed on his head but it also saw Hafiz’s badminton go down hill. He could not manage his success.
The social media is buzzing over Zii Jia’s victory with political parties hard at work to gain political mileage. We will hear more of political cybertroopers.
At the same time the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) should kick out “politics” and stay focused to take the game to a higher level. With the Tokyo Olympics around the corner it is time to cut out ”sports politics” in the association.

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