World no. 10 Lee Zii Jia has arrived on the world stage in style, giving the entire country a lift, as he edged out world no. 2 Viktor Axelsen to clinch the All-England men’s singles badminton crown. Lee is coached by Tey Seu Bock and Indonesia’ Hendrawan under national coaching director Wong Choon Hann. He was previously trained by Misbun Sidek and Indonesia’s Indra Wijaya.
In the quarter-finals, Lee ousted world no. 1 Kento Momota 21-16, 21-19, whom he had never taken a game off in six previous encounters. So the new champion’s triumph is no fluke.
It was a good day for Malaysian coaches abroad as well. Japan under Tan Kim Her (men’s doubles) and Jeremy Gan (mixed doubles) triumphed in all-Japan finals in the two events.
Japan, coached by South Korea’s Park Joo Bong, who once trained the Malaysian team, is undoubtedly a new powerhouse in world badminton, winning four of the five final events – three of them all-Japan finals, in the absence of China and Indonesia.
But Lee’s breakthrough win has shown us the power of perseverance and determination against the odds. It has rallied the nation together, breaking down ethnic and religious barriers, at a time of so much divisiveness.
Now let’s hope for Parliament to reconvene soon, so that our elected representatives can put their minds together to break through the political stalemate that is dragging the nation down.