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Monday October 24, 2005

Badminton: Double Danish delight

JOYFUL DAY: World number five Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia celebrates his win over world number four Bao Chunlai of China during the quarter-finals of the IBF World Badminton Championships
PETALING JAYA: It was a day of double joy for Malaysia when Lee Chong Wei and the men’s doubles pair of Koo Kien Keat-Chan Chong Ming achieved their biggest career wins in the Denmark Open badminton championships in Aarhus yesterday.  

Chong Wei secured his second international title of the year when he bagged the men’s singles crown after prevailing over Mohd Hafiz Hashim in an all-Malaysian final.  

The second-seeded Chong Wei dashed Hafiz’s hopes of winning his fourth Grand Prix title with a 17-14, 15-8 triumph in 48 minutes to become the first Malaysian in 39 years to lift the men’s singles crown in Denmark. 

Tan Aik Huang was the last Malaysian to win the five-star title back in 1966. The former singles great took the All-England title that same year before Hafiz ended the drought in 2003.  

JUBILATION: Malaysia claimed two titles in the Denmark Open through men’s singles player Lee Chong Wei and the men’s doubles pair of Koo Kien Keat (front) and Chan Chong Ming on Sunday.
Chong Ming-Kien Keat followed suit with a stylish 15-6, 15-7 win over defending champions and top seeds Lars Paaske-Jonas Rasmussen in the men’s doubles final.  

It was their biggest career win since the duo were paired together after the Athens Olympics last year.  

Chong Wei and Hafiz took to the court with little pressure after having sealed the all-Malaysian final.  

It proved to be the perfect birthday present for Chong Wei, who turned 23 on Friday, to lift his second crown since winning the Malaysian Open title in July.  

The Penang-born shuttler collected the winner’s cheque of US$13,600 (RM51,680) while Hafiz will return home with US$6,800 (RM25,840).  

Chong Ming-Kien Keat will share in the winner’s purse of US$12,240 (RM25,840).  

For Chong Wei, winning the Denmark Open will be just tonic before spearheading the national badminton team's challenge for the SEA Games in Manila next month.  

“My target was to win the Danish Open title and I have achieved it. It is important for me because it will give me good ranking points.  

“Hopefully, I can climb to third in the world for the first time after this,” said Chong Wei, who is currently ranked fourth.  

Chong Wei and Hafiz are the ones Malaysia will be relying on to keep traditional rivals Indonesia at bay not just in the men’s team but in the individual competition of the Manila Games as well. 


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