The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) have assured Lee Zii Jia (pic) that he will not be short of quality sparring partners.
BAM coaching director Wong Choong Hann said plans are afoot to get independent players to spar with the national No. 1 on a regular basis.
If all goes well, world No. 30 Liew Daren and Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin (69) will be roped in.
Zii Jia, the world No. 14 and Philippines SEA Games gold medallist, had earlier expressed his concern over the lack of quality sparring partners when Soong Joo Ven leaves the national team at the end of January.
Joo Ven, 24, was dropped together with Tan Jia Wei, 21, after they were deemed not good enough for Project ‘24.
This leaves the men’s singles department with only six shuttlers including Cheam June Wei, Leong Jun Hao, Ng Tze Yong, Aidil Sholeh Ali Sadikin and Lim Chong King.
June Wei, 22, is the only other senior member in the team.
“We anticipated this problem beforehand,” said Choong Hann.
“With the team made up of mostly juniors, we have to seek sparring options outside the national team to complement Zii Jia’s training programme.
“We’re looking to rope in several players including the possibility of bringing in Joo Ven.”
With Zii Jia being the best in the country, Choong Hann was asked whether the deployment of independent shuttlers as sparring partners would help raise Zii Jia’s game.
The 2003 World Championships silver medallist responded: “A good sparring partner may not necessarily be someone who is of higher or of the same standard.
“(Lee) Chong Wei and Lin Dan didn’t have sparring partners who are better or anywhere close to their level but their game never failed to get stronger and better.
“That’s because each sparring partner has their own special ability and skill sets. Some sparring partners may not be able to cover the full court efficiently, but when you put them in half court match play, they can re