SEPANG: About 200 family members and supporters showed up at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) to welcome the return of the Thomas and Uber Cup teams.
Malaysia played in the Thomas Cup final on Sunday for the first time since 2002, but despite the efforts of world No.1 Datuk Lee Chong Wei and scratch pair Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong, the team went down fighting 3-2 to Japan.
It was Japan’s maiden Thomas Cup win in its first final. They became the fourth country after China, Indonesia and Malaysia to lift the cup.
The defeat also means Malaysia, which last won the title in 1992, will have to wait longer before it can taste success once again.
The crowd started swelling as early as 6pm and was really in the mood by the time the team emerged at the arrival hall at 7.40pm yesterday.
Every shuttler who played a part in Sunday’s final posed with the fans but it was the support for captain Liew Daren, who lost in the third singles to Takuma Ueda, that was the loudest.
Second singles player Chong Wei Feng, who turned 27 yesterday, had a pleasant surprise when his team-mates and Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) officials surprised him with a birthday cake and song.
The Sungai Petani-born shuttler played a crucial role for the team, winning five matches en route to the final.
BAM president, Tan Sri Tengku Mahaleel Tengku Ariff, and Lee’s family, wife Wong Mew Choo and son Kingston were also present at the airport.
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