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KUALA LUMPUR, March 25 -- Lee Zii Jia today revealed that he skipped the recent Chinese New Year celebration to prepare for the All England, after his return from a disastrous outing in Thailand in January.
The newly crowned All-England champion said in order to focus fully on training, he even told his family in Kedah that he was not allowed to celebrate Chinese New Year in February.
“Actually, BAM gave a break to all players to celebrate CNY, but I decided to stay back to focus on training. I was the only player who stayed in the camp and trained alone during that period,” he told a virtual press conference here today.
Zii Jia’s perseverance paid off as he clinched the All England men’s singles title with a sensational 30-29, 20-22, 21-9 win over defending champion Viktor Axelsen of Denmark in Birmingham on Sunday.
Zii Jia said he and his coach Hendrawan felt really down after he suffered demoralising defeats in three back-to-back tournaments in Thailand.
Zii Jia lost to second seed Chou Tien Chen of Taiwan in the quarter-finals of the Yonex Thailand Open before losing to India’s Sameer Verman in the first round of the Toyota Thailand Open.
He then lost all his three matches in the Badminton World Federation (BWF) World Tour Finals.
“I was really happy after the match (All England final) and straight away called Hendrawan to share the moment with him. I saw him shed tears of joy following my victory against Axelsen … he was so proud of me,” he added.
The Kedahan, who is now world number eight, said his confidence grew after reaching the semi-finals of the Swiss Open, which preceded the All England.
“I didn’t expect to win the All England. I hope I can maintain my confidence, keep training hard and prepare for the coming Malaysian Open,” he added.
He said he would rather not be compared with badminton legend Datuk Lee Chong Wei, as everyone has his own journey.
“It is impossible to repeat Chong Wei’s success. I have my own story and journey to go on. I want to stay focused and fight for the rest of my career,” he said.
Zii Jia pledged to give a good display at the Tokyo Olympics in July but did not want to put too much pressure on himself by setting the gold medal as his target.