Tuesday, 3 June 2014 | MYT 5:05 PM
Jin Wei stuns Li Lian for Sukma gold
Goh Jin Wei's win over Yang Li Lian has made her the youngest Sukma gold medalist in women's singles. - IZZRAFIQ ALIAS / The Star
KANGAR: Penang’s Goh Jin Wei brushed off comparisons with reigning world champion Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand after becoming the youngest ever singles champion in the Malaysia Games (Sukma) badminton competition.
The 14-year-old Jin Wei beat the 21-year-old Yang Li Lian of Selangor 20-22, 22-20, 21-15 in a thrilling women’s singles final at the State Sports Complex on Tuesday.
Li Lian was Malaysia’s second ranked singles player in last month’s Uber Cup in New Delhi.
The 19-year-old Ratchanok won the first of her three world junior titles when she was 14 and captured the world crown when she was 18.
“Don’t label me the next Ratchanok because there is a huge gap in standards between us. I need to win the world junior title first to be bracketed in the same league as her,” said Jin Wei.
Jin Wei seemed to have thrown the gold away when she failed to close out a 20-14 lead in the first game, and lost 20-22. Li Lian held three match points at 20-17 in the second, but Jin Wei fought gallantly to win 22-20.
A fast-tiring Li Lian was unable to match her opponent’s agility on the court, and duly lost the deciding game 15-21.
“I was just plain lucky today. I relaxed after reaching 20 points in the first game, and made too many unforced errors to lose to Li Lian.
“At 17-20 in the second game, I gave up all hope of winning but got a lifeline through Li Lian’s eagerness to close out the match. Both of us were tired in the third game, but I made fewer mistakes to win,” said the SMK Sri Hartamas Kuala Lumpur student Jin Wei.
The 21-year-old top seed Li Lian was the fourth higher-ranked player to be slain by Jin Wei in the competition. The petite Penangite had also beaten Johor’s Yap Rui Chen (first round), second seed Lim Yin Fun of Federal Territories (quarter-finals) and fourth seed Lee Ying Ying of Perak (semi-finals).
In the men’s singles final, top seed Zulfadli Zulkiffli of FT played below his best but was still good enough to beat second seed Chong Yee Han of Selangor 21-12, 21-18 and retain his Sukma gold.
“I had just returned to action after a two-month knee injury layoff. I could not over-exert myself and risk a recurrence of the injury,” said the 21-year-old former world junior champion.
“I’m happy to bow out of the Sukma scene as a two-time champion. I want to thank the FT officials who kept their faith in me despite knowing that I wasn’t fully fit.”