Zii Jia: I am sorry, Malaysia

Lee Zii Jia

TOKYO – National men’s singles shuttler Lee Zii Jia has apologised to all Malaysians for failing to contribute a medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games after his heart-breaking loss in the round-of-16 tie today.

The 23-year-old, who was eliminated by 2016 Rio Olympics gold medallist Chen Long of China, admitted that he was aware that many Malaysian sports fans had counted on him to present the country with a medal from Tokyo.

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“There is a lockdown now, many cannot go out or go anywhere. (They are) always watching television and giving their support to us (the national athletes). I wish to apologise for not being able to give them a medal as expected,” he said after his loss.

In the round-of-16 tie at the Musashino Forest Sport Plaza here tonight, Zii Jia was in imperious form in the first game, winning it 21-8. However, he gave a fighting performance despite losing 19-21 in the second game before seemingly losing his focus in the decider to go down 5-21.

Zii Jia, who is making his maiden Olympic appearance in Tokyo, was one of the national athletes being counted on to deliver the country’s first-ever gold medal at the Games here.

Meanwhile, Zii Jia admitted that what separated him and world number six Chen Long tonight was the Chinese ace’s experience.

“In the first game, I was in total control. But in the second game, I threw away many points and had to play catch-up from the start and it didn’t pan out well.

“At the start of the third game, I lost focus and Chen Long, with his vast experience, knew how to handle the situation. I still have a lot to learn,” said Zii Jia, who hails from Alor Setar, Kedah.

The shuttler, however, was adamant that he would bounce back from tonight’s loss to Chen Long to go for glory in future tournaments.

“No need to think too much. I have no regrets, no excuses… like I said, this is my first Olympics and I still need to work harder and be really prepared for future tournaments,” he said.