Three-time Olympic silver medalist Lee Chong Wei was among Mlaysian icons who took to social media to encourage Lee Zii Jia, who crashed out in the men’s singles last-16 to Chen Long on Thursday.
Zii Jia fell 21-8, 19-21, 5-21 to the Chinese defending champion after an excellent start to win the first game and great determination to claw back to 19-19 after trailing for the entire second game.
As Chong Wei pointed out, Chen Long was a master tactician who put all his experience to good use to come away with victory.
“With more experience, Chen Long will not be an obstacle to you in the future. Right now, he is still a formidable defending champion. He may look innocent, but that guy is constantly working out his opponent’s strategy.
“I think based on power, speed and technique, Zii Jia was better than Chen Long. What was lacking was the composure at the crucial stage. But it’s his first Olympics, who won’t be nervous?
“I’m proud of you, Malaysians are proud of you!” he said, adding with a humorous side note that Zii Jia should consider training in Malacca to get his Olympics gold.
It was in reference to Philippines weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, who won her country’s first ever Olympics gold after training in the historical state.
Former national men’s doubles shuttler Koo Kien Kiat also posted words of encouragement to Zii Jia.
“Zii Jia is only 23. He has a long journey throughout his career, this defeat is just the beginning. Playing Chen Long will never be easy, that’s why he is the only defending champion at the Tokyo Olympics.
“Lots of improvement we saw from Zii Jia’s match, physical and power. He is just lacking in major tournament experience. Hope to see you shining in Paris 2024,” posted the former world number one.
Chen Long will face Chinese Taipei’s Chou Tien-chen for a place in the quarter-finals.