PETALING JAYA: Former international Ong Ewe Hock believes the world championships setback is one of the many hurdles Lee Zii Jia will face in his new career as a professional player.
Zii Jia, who was hoping to become the first Malaysian to win the world title, fell to China’s Zhao Junpeng in the last 16.
Ewe Hock said Zii Jia, 24, will have to manage his entire career on his own and needs to have the best team around him to ensure he is successful, unlike being a national player where everything is taken care of by the Badminton Association of Malaysia .
“Zii Jia has been a professional player just a few months ago and it’s a whole new environment for him. Setbacks will happen and there will be critics but he needs to be brave in facing these situations,” said Ewe Hock.
“He was leading in the third game and eventually lost. It meant there was pressure on him.
“He has time on his side and he will eventually start doing well but he needs to have the right people to guide. He is his own boss and calls the shots on who helps him.
“As an independent player, the sponsors are important for him to compete and their support depends on the results. So, Zii Jia needs to get over the disappointment in Tokyo and move on.”
While it was commendable that Zii Jia made the bold move of announcing his target to win the major title, Datuk Rashid Sidek felt that such calls would only increase pressure on a player.
“Lessons in defeat make a player mentally tough and Zii Jia can only get stronger after the world meet. He needs to accept reality and keep using this experience to improve on his performance,” said Rashid.
“Every shuttler wants to win the world title and Zii Jia may have added more pressure by announcing his title aspirations.
“There will be criticism but he needs to have the mental strength to face them. Pressure and criticism are part of a player’s life and cause more damage on a younger player. He needs to be patient and work his way up. As a professional, he is alone and the journey will be tough.
“Viktor (Axelsen) won the world title at 23 (2017) but struggled for a few years before winning his Olympics gold last year. He is 28 and has been very consistent. There are so many young players who are trying to make a breakthrough but Axelsen is able to sustain his quality.
“Zii Jia must keep pushing until he is in an unshakable position, something like what Lee Chong Wei achieved in his career, and everything else will fall into place.”
Chong Wei too did not have early success at the World Championships and made the first of three consecutive finals in 2011 at the age of 29.
While Chong Wei’s unparalleled success should not be used as a yardstick measure on Zii Jia’s level, the latter should chart his own way forward at his own pace but remain on his toes to grab the chances that comes along the way.