PETALING JAYA: The tears shed by the usually cool Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik said it all after they won the country’s first medal at the Olympic Games.
The hope of the nation was on their shoulders but the debutants did not disappoint as they fought brilliantly to upstage reigning world champions Mohammad Ahsan-Hendra Setiawan of Indonesia 17-21, 21-17, 21-14 in a 50-minute bronze-medal playoff match at the Musashino Forest Sports Plaza.
It was only a bronze – but it never felt that special.
It was the country’s long awaited first medal in the Games but more importantly, Aaron-Wooi Yik’s effort also saved badminton team the blushes from almost going home empty-handed for the first time since Athens 2004.
But it was the manner Aaron-Wooi Yik pulled off the stunner that deserved a standing ovation.
The underdogs were down after losing the opening game against the experienced Indonesians but showed dogged determination to make a remarkable comeback for only their second win against Ahsan-Hendra in eight meetings.
They were four points down when Ahsan-Hendra cruised to an 11-7 lead in the second game interval and many thought that it was game over for the Malaysians.
But Aaron-Wooi Yik proved they were made of sterner stuff when they fought back admirably to take the lead at 13-12 and hung on to seal the game.
In the decider, the Malaysians took advantage of their error-prone rivals to open up a 4-1 lead and fought confidently all the way to make the biggest breakthrough in their young careers.
So it was understandable when Aaron-Wooi Yik could not hold back their tears after ending their years of training and months of pressure and expectations with their first Olympics medal.
“I’m just so, so happy. I felt so much pressure in the second game,” said a relieved Wooi Yik.
“Although it wasn’t a gold-medal match, it was still the most important match of my life. Aaron and I have turned this into the best achievement of our careers.
“This would not have been possible if I had not worked on overcoming my past confidence issue and weaknesses.
“I hope this is just the beginning. I want to fight for more glory.”
Aaron said it was his family who had given him strength to come back strongly in the second game.
“When they were leading the second game by four points, I told myself we’ve got to sustain and handle the pressure.
“At that time, the first thing that I was thinking of was my family.
“They are the ones who give me the strength to carry on,” added Aaron, who dedicated the win yesterday to his wife Goh Mui Kee and daughters Albee Chong Rui and Alyssa Chia Shin.