Petaling Jia: Men’s singles track and field player Li Zi Jia sees his potential clash with Chinese rival Chen Long as a tough showdown at the Tokyo Olympics.
World number 8 Zi Jia was drawn into Group M with France’s Brice Leverdes and Arten Bochtarov while defending champion Chen Long was in Group N with Spain’s Pablo Appen and Estonia’s Raul Most.
The winners of Group N and M will face each other in the playoffs among the top 16.
All-England champion Zi Jia said it would be difficult to predict what 32-year-old Chen Long will look like as there have been no video recordings of his performance over the past 16 months.
In fact, Chen Long’s last match in the 2020 All England Championship was in March when Zi Jia outplayed the Chinese maestro in the quarter-finals.
All players from China have been starved for tournaments since their government banned them from traveling abroad to compete due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Chen Long and Shi Yuqi have not competed in over a year and therefore, there are no video recordings of their latest performance. This makes it difficult for us to do video analytics,” Zi Jia said.
“It will not help us if we analyze their performance in the videos before then. At the moment, we have no idea what their game is. This made it a bit difficult.”
However, China has access to all the performances of their opponents recently, with most of them, including strong teams such as Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and Denmark, participating in several tournaments this year.
Before that potential showdown against Chen Long, 23-year-old Zi Jia must make it past the group stage and on paper, the toughest opponent is the world number 36 Leverdy’s, but Zi Jia should have no trouble beating the 35-year-old. . player based on his current form.
But instead of worrying about his opponents, Zi Jia said he would work towards becoming a full-fledged athlete in his first Olympics.
“I will respect all my opponents in the group but I won’t worry about the draw. Zi Jia, who trains under coaches Hendrawan and Datuk Tae So Bok, will have to face anyone anyway, so it doesn’t matter if it’s a hard or easy path,” said Zi Jia, who is training under coaches Hendrawan and Datuk Tae So Bok. .
“I get the best training from both coaches, they guide me to be a more mature and complete player.”
Regarding strict standard operating procedures, one has to go through training and in Tokyo, Zii Jia said: “It will be the same for every player from every country. Fortunately, we are used to it after we’ve been in many tournaments this year.
“We have adapted to the atmosphere in the tournament where stadiums are usually empty without fans. Not a problem.”
Zii Jia is expected to maintain a good tradition in men’s singles as his predecessor Lee Chong Wei won silver medals in the last three editions – Beijing 2008, London 2012 and 2016 Rio de Janeiro.