PETALING JAYA: A meltdown in the singles resulted in Malaysia losing to China again in the mixed team final at the World Junior Championships.
Malaysia had planned to topple the badminton giants by winning two singles and one doubles. Instead, they went down 3-1 to hand China their 12th title at the Among Rogo sports arena in Yogjakarta, Indonesia, yesterday.
Malaysia began on the right track when Man Wei Chong-Pearly Tan Koong Lee put up a fantastic show to beat Fan Qiuyue-Li Wenmei 21-12, 9-21, 21-17 in the mixed doubles. But reigning Asian junior champion Leong Jun Hao cracked – losing 14-21, 18-21 to Gao Zhengze.
Jun Hao has played in every tie for Malaysia since the knockout stage. Zhengze only played twice in the group stage and was rested for the quarter-finals and semi-finals.
That did the trick as the fresher Zhengze did well to outfox the Malaysian to level the score.
National Under-18 boys’ doubles champions Chang Yee Jun-Ng Eng Cheong tried to restore order but went down fighting 19-21, 17-21 to Fan Qiuyue-Wang Chang.
All eyes were then on Kuala Lumpur SEA Games champion Goh Jin Wei to keep Malaysia’s challenge alive but she lost 16-21, 22-20, 8-21 to reigning Asian junior girls’ singles champion Han Yue.
The 18-year-old Jun Hao was disappointed at not being able to help end Malaysia’s eight-year wait for the team title. Malaysia last won the mixed team title in 2009.
“I put pressure on myself after the team took a 1-0 lead. I wanted so badly to win a point that I couldn’t perform,” said Jun Hao.
National coach Rony Agustinus took Jin Wei’s defeat in his stride.
“She plays differently in the junior and senior tournaments. She puts more pressure on herself in junior events. In senior tournaments, she plays confidently,” said Rony.
Jin Wei, the 2015 world junior champion, had also failed to live up to expectations at last year’s world junior meet in Bilbao, Spain – losing her match in the mixed team final and crashing out in the quarter-finals of the individual competition.
“Overall, she still needs to improve her game style.
“Her movements are predictable, so we’ll have to help her add variety to it. Overall, she is on the right track,” said Rony.