Malaysian badminton delivered the unexpected with the shuttle to reap three of the five gold medals at stake in the 30th Sea Games individual events – – winning the men’s and women’s singles and the men’s doubles.
The Muntinlupa Sports Complex in Manila turned out to be a joy for the Malaysian shuttlers with lowly-ranked S. Kisona standing tall on the podium with the women’s singles medal around her neck – as the 20-year-old, ranked 104 in the world, staged a remarkable comeback from a one-game deficit for a 20-22, 21-14, 21-13 win over 37th ranked Indonesian Ruselli Hartawan.
She made every shot of her 67-minute battle count to ensure that Malaysia retained the women’s singles gold in the absence of Goh Jin Wei who was ruled out of the biennial games after undergoing major surgery.
“What can you say when it is the biggest win of my career,” said a jubilant Kisona after her win which was indeed a fairytale run for the shuttler who earned the nod in the team following Jin Wei’s ill health.
Coach Datuk Tey Seu Bok was another delighted person on the court – knowing that his charge pulled no punches to deliver and keep Malaysia’s flag flying in the biennial games.
“Kisona was determined not to let the country down. She delivered with lots of guts and determination on the court. In fact, she knocked out higher-ranked opponents like Gregoria Mariska (No 24)and Nitchaon Jindapol (No 22) to make the final.
“The rest is history. However, there is still lots of work to be done in her game. She needs international exposure to gain more experience playing against higher-ranked players,” said Seu Bok.
Second-seeded Lee Zii Jia added the men’s singles gold when he checked a drop in his second game to beat Singapore’s Malaysian-born Loh Kean Yew 21-18, 21-18 in 38 minutes. It was the second win by the 14th ranked Malaysian over the 30th ranked Kean Yew in Manila, having beaten him in the team event.
“A win is a win. I am the new Sea Games champion. The gold medal is mine it does matter what others say about it,” said Zii Jia in response to critics who said his win was made easier by the absence of Indonesians Jonatan Christie and Anthony Gintin who stayed away from the individual events.
Men’s doubles Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik gunned down the Thai challenge of Bodin Issara-Maneepong Jongjit in three games 18-21, 21-15, 21-16 in 48 minutes.
Malaysia had a bad start to the finals when the mixed doubles pair Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai Jemie buckled under pressure to lose to Indonesia’s Praveen Jordan-Melati Daeva Oktavianti 19-21, 21-19, 23-21 in a 61-minute encounter. – BY RIZAL ABDULLAH