KUALA LUMPUR: Shocked and thoroughly upset.
That was the reaction of Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games deputy chef-de-mission Gerard Monteiro upon learning that professional men’s singles ace Lee Zii Jia had pulled out.
“I am disappointed because we were definitely hoping for him to win a medal,” Monteiro said at Akademi Badminton Malaysia in Bukit Kiara.
Last night, Zii Jia dropped a bombshell online when he announced his withdrawal from the upcoming Games, citing difficulty coping with the tight schedule.
He said the main reason for doing so is to focus on the World Championships in Tokyo in August.
Asked if Zii Jia had officially notified the contingent and Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM), Monteiro said they have yet to receive anything from the world No 5.
“I haven’t got any official statement from him, all we know for now is the video that he released yesterday and we were all very surprised,’’ he added.
Following Zii Jia’s decision, Monteiro admitted that they need to go back to the drawing board and revise the medal target announced by OCM last week.
Badminton was expected to contribute two gold medals, while gymnastics, lawn bowls, weightlifting, squash and powerlifting were expected to chip in one gold each.
The Badminton Association of Malaysia had previously banked on the men’s singles and mixed team events to hit the target in Birmingham.
However, Monteiro still hoped that the other shuttlers can rise to the occasion at the National Exhibition Centre in July.
“Badminton always delivered medals at every edition as far as I can remember and we look forward to that continuing. I think the players are preparing well, plus they had a good outing in the Indonesia Masters and Indonesia Open recently,” he said.
The Games are scheduled to be held from July 28 to Aug 8.