Lee Zii Jia's future with the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) does not look promising after he finally broke his silence.
The shuttler, when met by reporters in training at the Academy Badminton Malaysia on Tuesday, did not divulge details into his future with the national body but had this to say: “If I am a rebel, you won’t see me in this training centre.
“Any announcement [on my future] will be made by the BAM. My job is just to train, perform, produce good results and make my country proud. I have no comment on the rumours,” he said, sticking to his no-comment stance when pressed.
Lee’s non-committal response was certainly alarming for BAM, who only last month squashed any rumours linking the shuttler away from the association.
“I have just spoken to Lee, he is completely unaware of the recent rumours of his quitting the BAM. His determination and vision remains the same as the leading men’s singles of the country,” said BAM general-secretary Kenny Goh in a statement issued on December 30.
National coaching director Wong Choong Hann also touched on Lee’s future with BAM.
While he did say the shuttler will continue to report for training, Wong could not guarantee if Lee would remain with the association.
“It will be considered an emergency to lose our number one [shuttler]. It means we need to get a replacement ready as soon as possible. Zii Jia is still young and he will get better. What I can say is that a lot have been invested into our young players.
“But there is no guarantee of success. Very few will go on to become successful. The investment is not just on monetary terms, but also on resources as well as the coaches input and time.
“So it would be a huge loss for BAM if some of these mature products who have a long span of success ahead of them, decide to leave. We always try to retain our best talent, whether people see it or not,” said Wong, adding he had not discussed the shuttler's future with him.
“None of this was discussed. We have only spoken on how to improve his performance, which has been yo-yo over the last few tournaments.”
His future with the national team aside, Lee has suffered a horrendous last few months since he made the Hylo Open final in November.
After retiring in that match against Loh Kean Yew, the world number seven retired in the first round of the Indonesia Masters and followed suit with a first-round defeat at the Indonesia Open.
Lee made the semis of the World Tour Finals before losing in straight games, and ended his 2021 season with another retirement after suffering a huge blister at his BWF World Championships quarter-finals match against Anders Antonsen.