Malaysia had set only one gold target in the 30th edition of the Sea Games in the Philippines but may just return home with three after reaching the finals of three individual events – the men’s and women’s singles and the men’s doubles.
There was a surprise at the Muntinlupa Sports Complex in Manila on Sunday when late inclusion S. Kisona reached the women’s singles final when she upset Thailand’s No 2 seed Nitchaon Jindapol in a come from behind 11-21, 27-25, 21-14 win in 62 minutes.
The up and coming Kisona will face Indonesia’s Ruselli Hartawan who was also involved in a three-game absorbing encounter before dumping Thailand’s No 1 seed Pornpawee Chochuwong 21-16, 10-21, 21-18.
Malaysia’s Lee Zii Jia, the No 2 seed, continued to keep the country’s flag flying – needing only 31 minutes to march into the final after a straight game 21-12, 21-9 win over Thai fourth seed Sitthikom Thammasin.
In the final, the Malaysian will face Singapore’s Malaysian-born Loh Kean Yew for the gold medal. Kean Yew pulled off a stunning 16-21, 21-6, 21-9 win over Thai favorite and top seed Kantaphon Wangcharoen.
Men’s doubles Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik, the No 2 seeds, stayed on course in the men’s doubles and will face Thailand’s Bodin Issara-Maneepong Jongjit in the final. In the semi-finals, the Malaysians knocked out Indonesians Wahyu Nayaka Arya Pangkaryanira 21-12, 18-21, 21-19 while the Thai hopes upstaged Malaysian third seeds Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi 21-12, 16-21, 21-19.
Malaysia’s gold medal hopes rest on No 2 seeds Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai Jemie who reached the final with a hard-fought 18-21, 21-11, 24-22 win over Indonesian youngsters Rinov Rivaldy-Phita Haningtyas Mentari.
Another Indonesia hurdle awaits them – against top seeds Praveen Jordan-Melati Daeva Oktavianti for the gold medal. The Indonesians prevented an all-Malaysian final by showing No 3 seeds Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing the exit with a 21-16, 21-18 victory. – BY RIZAL ABDULLAH