To grasp victory from the jaws of defeat is possibly one of the most fulfilling moments for any athlete, an achievement Lee Zii Jia now unlocked after mounting a mammoth comeback to clinch the Thailand Open title.
The Malaysian, who also fulfilled his long-standing quest to break into the top five ranking courtesy of his back-to-back titles, admitted defeat was a possibility as he trailed Li Shi Feng 4-11 in the deciding game.
But his insatiable appetite to cross the line as champion overcame everything, including immense mental and physical fatigue.
“Even before this final, I was very tired mentally and physically. But I wanted this title so much, it is what I want all the time. To become back-to-back champion means a lot to me. At that moment I told myself I can’t give up.
“I realised it could be lost, but I had to try for every point, and I finally did it,” said a jubilant, yet clearly exhausted Lee.
In many ways, Lee’s victory in Bangkok was much tougher than his success at the Badminton Asia Championships.
In Manila, he was fresh returning to action after a month-long preparation since last competing at the All-England in March.
Apart from his first match where he was taken to three games, Lee won all his duels in straight games, including the final victory over Jonatan Christie.
In Bangkok, the Kedah-born competed with barely any recuperation after helping the country reach the Thomas Cup quarter-finals where he won all his encounters.
While the likes of Viktor Axelsen and K. Srikanth conceded walkovers after clearly feeling the effects of the Thomas Cup, Lee soldiered on and showed everyone, including himself, that he was made of sterner stuff.
Against Shesar Hiren Rhustavito in the last eight, Lee was trailing 4-12 in the deciding game and stormed to victory by winning the decider 21-16.
History was repeating itself in the final against Li as the Malaysian needed to mount a mighty comeback in the decider, which he did so handsomely by winning 17-21, 21-11, 23-21 after 70 minutes.
Including his third title of the year at the Asia Team Championships, Lee showed he had what it takes to become the top shuttler in the men's singles division.
That should send shivers down the spines of the rest of his competitors in the men’s singles.