Lee Zii Jia had at least a mixed 2022.
The Malaysian badminton star started last year by announcing her split from the national federation, which resulted in her being temporarily disqualified from the national team – and ended up splitting with her coach, ranking second in the world.
With season 2023 Lee is only a few days away from the Lee Super 1000 Malaysia Open home event in Kuala Lumpur which is due to start later this year, it could be key year for a 24-year-old.
And while world champion and Olympic champion Viktor Axelsen seems unassailable in the world rankings, Lee is hoping 2023 will be better than 2022 – and will be firmly second behind Axelsen.
With many others – including Indonesia’s Jonathan Christie and Anthony Ginting, Taipei’s Chou Tien-chen and Singapore’s 2021 world champion Loh Kean Yew – within easy reach of Lee in the world rankings, the Malaysian will have a job for him especially without a coach .
Lee Zii Jia roller coaster in the 2022 season
When Lee announced in January 2022 that he was leaving the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM), it caused a sensation. BAM initially suspended Lee for two years, claiming it was a breach of contract, and announced that they would no longer select him for competition.
But an agreement was reached for Lee to become an independent while returning to the national team and his decision to leave the BAM program initially seemed to pay off as he helped Malaysia win the Asian Team Championship in February before winning the Asian Singles Badminton Championship in April and then Thailand Open.
However, his form then declined: after reaching the quarter-finals and semi-finals in consecutive Indonesian tournaments, Lee was knocked out early, including at the World Championships and the Japan Open. Lee also chose to skip the Commonwealth Games, although he later clarified that he did so due to injury.
The pressure at the end of the season to qualify for the World Tour Finals did not pay off – after finishing second to Shi Yuqi at the Denmark Open, he was again eliminated early in France and Australia.
Despite this, Zii Jia still scored enough ranking points to move up to world No. 2, behind only Axelsen and ahead of other Asian rivals. And one more twist was to come this year.
Lee worked with a trainer Indra Vijaya since he was a BAM contract player and Indonesian Indra was the head coach of the Malaysian national team. After Lee left the organization, Wijaya was also able to join the shuttle’s independent coaching team. But in late November, the relationship ended and Lee decided he wanted to go solo.
The world’s fifth-ranked Chinese Taipei Chou has been the most famous uncoached fighter to date.
Walking alone: ??Lee Zii Jia is now without a coach
So 2023 starts for Lee with only his closest team – his sister and manager Lee Zii Yiisparring partner and former national teammate Liw Daren – helping him on a regular basis.
Zii Jia has not yet shown any signs of appointing a new coach to replace Indra Wijay – he recently said in quotes reported by the New Straits Times that he will focus on training with Liew in the short term.
“Right now I have Daren to help me,” he said. “More importantly, I have to find that breakthrough myself – I haven’t been able to find the answer yet,” Lee added, referring to his patchy form and inconsistent results.
Could a training period outside of Malaysia help? After all, both Axelsen and world number six Loh often train together in Dubai with other players, including India’s world number 10 Lakshya Sen, away from their national teams. Indeed, in September before the Denmark Open, Lee had the idea of ??training with Axelsen and Anders Antonsen.
However, that doesn’t seem to be in any of Zia Jia’s calculations right now. “We’re gearing up for a very busy schedule so I don’t think I’ll have the luxury of time to train abroad,” he said – but the door is not closed.
“Maybe when there are a number of tournaments in Europe, for example, I would consider going a week early to train there.”
Zii Jia consolidates the second place in the world
Lee wants to consolidate his position in the second place in the world. In September, while still fourth in the world, his goal was to reach those heights alone, with the Malaysian telling reporters he wanted to finish second “by the end of the day.” ”.
He achieved this ahead of schedule, ranking second in the world on the October 25 ranking. But Lee isn’t entirely convinced he deserves to be there.
He did in the off-season, he trains abroad, spending time in Taipei with Chou, where he told reporters, “I want to prove that I’m worthy of second place in the world, not because of the number of tournaments I play.”
“Personally, I am still not satisfied with my results, especially with the fluctuations in my results” Astro Stadium he quoted him as speaking.
Leeward also indicated he was aware that a contingent of other Asians was treading on him in the world rankings. “The second position in the world, which I hold, is not so sure.
“When I come back next year (2023), I really need to go there to prove that I deserve second place in the world.”
His first attempt to do so will be on home soil at the Malaysia Open (January 10-15).
And if he wins in front of the high-profile cheering section at home, the road to retaining world No. 2 will begin.