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Monday April 15, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Thursday April 25, 2013 MYT 11:57:50 PM
by rajes paul
A pleasure: Lee Chong Wei shaking hands with Thailand’s Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk after beating him 21-12,
21-15 in the final yesterday. — SAMUEL ONG/The Star
KUALA LUMPUR: It was baby luck all right as world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei oozed class to steer Malaysia to their first US$1mil Axiata Cup at the Kuala Lumpur Badminton Stadium in Cheras yesterday.
Just two days after becoming a proud father of his newborn son Kingston, Chong Wei returned to court and crushed Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk 21-12, 21-15 to turn saviour for Malaysia.
His win saw Malaysia going on to beat Thailand 3-1 in a full-house stadium for their most memorable mixed team title and their biggest pay cheque of US400,000.
Prior to this, Malaysia’s only other mixed team achievements were gold medals at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games and 2010 New Delhi Commonwealth Games.
Yesterday, the other points came through the doubles shuttlers – mixed pair Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying and men’s top pair Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong. The only one that Malaysia missed was through women’s singles shuttler Sonia Cheah.
World No. 5 Peng Soon-Liu Ying pulled off one of their best matches this season to blow away Thailand’s Sudket Prapakamol-T. Saralee 21-16, 21-15 while Kien Keat-Boon Heong were a class above Boonsak Ponsana-A. Songphon when they easily sealed the tie with a 21-10, 21-17 win.
The 30-year-old Chong Wei was delighted that he had accomplished his mission for Malaysia.
“We have never won any major mixed team title – especially at home and I wanted to make sure that we nailed one for the home fans,” said Chong Wei.
“Liew Daren or Chong Wei Feng could have played but the point was not guaranteed. We discussed it last night (Saturday) and I decided to play to help the team.”
The fact that Daren had lost tamely to Tanongsak at the preliminary round was also a reason for Malaysia’s decision to field the two-time Olympic Games silver medallist Chong Wei.
“We knew it would be difficult for Sonia to win against Ratchanok (Intanon). Our hope was on the mixed doubles and Peng Soon-Liu Ying played superbly to level the score at 1-1. I am glad that I won and Koo and Tan wrapped it up.”
Chong Wei said that winning his first match as a father was certainly an additional bonus.
“My son Kingston has brought me luck. Mew Choo and baby are still in the hospital and will be discharged tomorrow. I will be joining them in the hospital after this,” said Chong Wei.
Peng Soon was also happy that they put up an inspiring show.
“We were totally in form today and won in straight games to give an advantage to our team,” said Peng Soon.
“I was not too well yesterday but today, I was fresh and able to complement my partner. Before the Axiata Cup, we had struggled but a good win today had lifted our spirits,” added Peng Soon, who will next head to the India Open Super Series April 23-28 with Liu Ying.
National singles coach Rashid Sidek was proud of the team’s achievement and said that the decision to field Chong Wei made all the difference for the team.
He said that it would put the team on the right mood ahead of the Sudirman Cup at the Putra Stadium from May 19-26.
Third-place playoff: Asia All Stars bt Indonesia 3-1 (Tai Tzu-ying
bt Lindaweni Fanetri 21-18, 22-20; Lee Hyun-il bt Dionysius Hayom
Rumbaka 21-19, 16-21, 21-6; Tarun Kona-Ashwini Ponnappa lost to
Debby Susanto-Mohd Rijal 21-16, 16-21, 15-21; Bao Chunlai-Zheng
Bo bt Hendra Setiawan-Mohd Ahsan 21-12, rtd.)
Final: Malaysia bt Thailand 3-1 (Sonia Cheah lost to Ratchanok
Intanon 16-21, 17-21; Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying bt Sudket
Prapakamol-T. Saralee 21-16, 21-15; Lee Chong Wei bt Tanongsak
Saensomboonsuk 21-12, 21-15; Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong bt
Boonsak Ponsana-A. Songphon 21-10, 21-17)
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