PETALING JAYA: Former international Lee Chong Wei neither encouraged Lee Jia Zii to turn professional nor told him to stick with the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM).
Instead, the men’s singles legend advised 2021 All-England champion Zii Jia to think through his decision when the latter came to see him to tell him of his plan to quit the national team.
“He had already made up his mind when he came to see me,” said three-time Olympic Games silver medallist Chong Wei.
“I did not encourage him to leave BAM neither did I discourage him from leaving. He is young, and I can’t stop him from doing what he wants but I wanted him to make the right decision, which is good for him.
Zii Jia had pointed out to Chong Wei that he could not handle the pressure inside the BAM.
“He did not elaborate on what had been troubling him but he told me right at my face that he is not like me and that he can’t handle the pressure on his shoulders,” said the four-time All-England champion.
“I told him that he can’t run away from pressure. There will always be pressure – whether external or internal and even when he plays as an independent player,” said Chong Wei.
“I too had to go through so much of pressure but not even once did I have the thought of leaving the national team.
“I had to deal with it in my pursuit to be the world No 1. But I’m different from him and this is a different playing era too.”
Chong Wei did point out to Zii Jia the consequences of leaving the national stable.
“I told him that he could face a ban from the national body if he leaves, after all they have invested in him since his junior days. He knows it.,” said Chong Wei.
The 37-year-old Chong Wei said neither the national body nor the players were perfect.
“I was with BAM for 19 years. The association have their flaws and I had my own shortcomings too as both sides are not 100% perfect.
“But we give and take – and most of the time, we try to reach a win-win situation,” said Chong Wei.
“I hope this will be solved amicably as situations like these do not augur well for the sport.”