Lee Zii Jia facts

Badminton is a sport Malaysians will never fail to rally around whenever game days are around the corner. The All England Open Badminton Championships final match yesterday, 21st March 2021, that saw a historic win for Malaysia’s own Lee Zii Jia is no different. With all eyes on the budding shuttler, we’ve rounded up 10 facts about Lee Zii Jia – from how he prefers not to be compared to Lee Chong Wei, to his hidden passion for music and basketball.

1. He was born in Alor Setar, Kedah

Facts About Lee Zii Jia, Malaysian badminton player - 18 years old
Image credit: @leeziijia

Lee is a born-and-bred Malaysian, born on 29th March 1998 in Alor Setar, Kedah. He attended SMJK Keat Hwa while growing up, and was even childhood rivals with Loh Kean Yew – a well-known, Penang-born Singaporean shuttler – whom he often met up with for badminton matches when they were 11 years old.

2. He started playing badminton at 6 years old

Facts About Lee Zii Jia, Malaysian badminton player - young
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Lee started playing professional badminton at 12 years old, winning his first international title not long at 19 – a bronze medal for the Victor Polish International 2017 championship. But the Kedah-born athlete actually began playing at the young age of 6 for health reasons after his dad brought him to a badminton club. He then decided to make a career out of it, as he shared with Olympic Channel

3. He doesn’t want to be compared to Lee Chong Wei

Facts About Lee Zii Jia, Malaysian badminton player - Lee Chong Wei
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It’s hard not to compare Lee to Datuk Lee Chong Wei, who is well-known for making Malaysians proud with his accomplishments as a badminton player. But Lee seeks to forge his own path, sharing with the Olympic Channel that, “I don’t want to become like Lee Chong Wei”, preferring to be who he is and focusing on what he can do as a badminton player in his own right. 

Nonetheless, he respects Datuk Lee Chong Wei and considers him one of his role models. His “never give up” spirit on the court is something that Lee seeks to replicate. Lee also has the former badminton player on speed dial, sharing that Datuk Lee Chong Wei is always up for a call or meet-up – and with helpful advice that he keeps around as a mantra while he’s on the court.

4. He loves music and enjoys singing in his free time

Facts About Lee Zii Jia, Malaysian badminton player - music
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While already leading a budding career as a shuttler, Lee enjoys several hobbies while he’s not on the court – including playing the guitar, singing and rapping. He regularly updates his followers on Instagram with song covers that show off his vocal and musical skills. He also has several Instagram stories highlights showcasing his rapping skills in both Malay and Chinese.

In an interview with New Straits Times, he shared that he was 15 years old when he was inspired to play the guitar by a lead guitarist in Korean pop-rock band, CNBLUE.

5. He suffered several setbacks before clinching the All England Open title

In 2019, Lee took to his Instagram page to share that he was facing financial difficulties and issues with training, while apologising for his poor performance during tournaments, as reported by The Star

In an interview with Olympic Channel, he shared that he is still young and lacking in experience. He also admitted that he felt the pressure and blame when people asked him why he can’t be or win like Lee Chong Wei, citing that he didn’t handle the comparisons well and buckled under the scrutiny initially. But he’s now come back stronger than before – as shown with his recent All England Open Badminton Championship win yesterday.

6. He loves playing basketball when he’s not training

Facts About Lee Zii Jia, Malaysian badminton player - basketball
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Another hobby of his is playing basketball. According to The Star, his parents – Leow Siet Peng and Lee Chee Hin – are ex-national basketball players who now coach a basketball team in Alor Setar, which is why he often plays basketball during his time off. His favourite basketball team is the Los Angeles Lakers, while Lebron James and the late Kobe Bryant are some of his favourite players. 

7. He is the first Malaysian to win the All England title since 2017

Facts About Lee Zii Jia, Malaysian badminton player - All England Open win
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All eyes are certainly fixed on Lee after his victory in the All England Badminton Championships men’s singles match, with an impressive win against Viktor Axelsen of Denmark. It’s not without good reason, as Lee is the first Malaysian to bag the title after Lee Chong Wei in 2017. Lee’s win also marks a comeback after he lost to Axelsen a year ago in the semi-finals of the same tournament. 

Lee was congratulated by fellow athletes Lee Chong Wei and Nicol David on social media on his win. Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin also took to his official Facebook page to cheer on Lee for his win and future pursuits as a badminton player, while hailing him as a “national hero”.

8. He is ranked number 10 in BWF’s World Ranking list

Facts About Lee Zii Jia, Malaysian badminton player - number 10 ranking
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Lee is currently the only Malaysian shuttler in the Top 10 world ranking list of badminton players, according to Badminton World Federation. It’s an impressive feat for Lee, who currently places at number 10 as of 16th March 2021, with 24 tournaments played and over 161 games won out of 243 games.

While securing the acclaimed title of champion during the 2021 All England Open game, Lee impressively beat out Momota Kento, currently ranked number 1 on the list, and Axelsen, at number 2.

9. He focused on training despite setbacks during pandemic 

Facts About Lee Zii Jia, Malaysian badminton player - at home practice
Image credit: @leeziijia

Malaysians have shown themselves to be pretty clever when it comes to DIY-ing workout routines during the MCO. Lee is no different, sharing on his Instagram account in early February 2020 how he had been practising badminton at home – by playing a one-on-one match with his bedroom wall.

According to a report by New Straits Times in April 2020, Lee shared that he missed being on the court and playing badminton during the MCO, as training had been halted due to postponements of various international tournaments, including the Olympics.

10. He loves Korean food and hates running

Facts About Lee Zii Jia, Malaysian badminton player - Korean food
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BWF TV / YouTube 

In an interview with Badminton World Federation (BWF), Lee showed that he’s just like any other Gen Z on the block despite regular training routines as a professional athlete. When asked what his go-to cheat meal was, he answered Korean food – specifically barbecued pork belly. And while he trains hard to keep in shape, he also admitted that he hates running. 

As he’s passionate about music, he also shared in the same interview that he listens to a lot of Chinese and English music before he sleeps and must have headphones around whenever he travels.

Facts about Lee Zii Jia, Malaysia’s budding shuttler

Lee Zii Jia is a budding badminton player with a bright future, as shown by his recent win in the All England Open. These 10 Lee Zii Jia facts also show that despite several setbacks and constant pressure from the public, he’s proven himself to be a capable young athlete that’s making Malaysians proud of our local talents. We’re looking forward to cheering him on in future tournaments and matches, and hope to see more victories from him.

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Cover image adapted from: @leeziijia and @ba_malaysia

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