RIO DE JANEIRO: Malaysian badminton is flying at the Rio Olympics.
For the first time in the history of the Games, Malaysia will be in two finals – not counting Lee Chong Wei’s expected trip to the pinnacle of world badminton.
On Tuesday, men’s doubles pair Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong joined mixed doubles pair Goh Liu Ying-Chan Peng Soon in the final by stunning China’s Chai Biao-Hong Wei 21-18, 12-21, 21-17 in the semi-finals at the Riocentro Pavilion Four.
V Shem-Wee Kiong will meet China’s Fu Haifeng-Zhang Nan for the gold on Friday. Haifeng-Zhang defeated Marcus Ellis-Chris Langridge of Britain 21-14, 21-18 in another semi-finals. The Malaysians have beaten Haifeng-Zhang at the group match.
It took V Shem-Wee Kiong 64 minutes to record the win and become the third Malaysian pair to reach the Olympic final after Cheah Soon Kit-Yap Kim Hock in Atlanta in 1996.
It was V Shem-Wee Kiong’s fourth win over the Chinese in seven meetings.
With the Malaysian fans shouting Malaysia Boleh at the start of the match, V Shem-Wee Kiong were never troubled in the first game. There were hardly any long rallies in the error-filled game.
V Shem-Wee Kiong led all the way until the Chinese levelled at 18-18. Thanks to three mistakes by Chai Biao-Hong Wei, the Malaysians wrapped up the game in 21 minutes.
The second game was also not much different from the first, with both sides taking a cautious approach. But it was Chai Biao-Hong Wei who were in the forefront, not due to their brilliance but the Malaysians’ errors, to level the match in 18 minutes.
There was much more excitement in the rubber.
The Malaysians led for most part of the game, leading 11-6 at the changeover.
Despite being penalised for a service fault, the Malaysians kept their cool to lead 20-17.
And then, to the delight of the Malaysian fans, Wee Kiong secured the winning point to put Malaysia in the final.
Malaysia are now assured of two silvers to add to the one won by divers Pandelela Rinong-Cheong Jun Hoong, making it the most successful outing for the country in the history of the Games.
For Wee Kiong, he is not thinking about Friday’s final.
“At the moment, I need to relax. We’re looking forward to it as we’ve hardly had any time to relax ... playing a few tough matches for the last few days,” he said.
Asked how he was going to relax over the next two days, the 27-year-old, whose father was at the stadium to support him, said: “I’m going to sleep.”
He admitted that they were too gung-ho to win the match in the second game.
“We lost our concentration and were blurred a bit. After the second game, the coaches (Jeremy Gan and Chin Eei Hui) discussed tactics with us and we managed to keep ahead.”
Asked if they will now go for gold, V Shem, also 27, said: “Of course. At least I have a medal now. In the final, we have no pressure, just fight all out and try to get a better medal.”