PETALING JAYA: Former Olympians Lee Wan Wah and Tan Boon Heong have saluted national men’s pair Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik for doing what they had failed to do – win in playoffs for bronze at the Olympics.
Aaron-Wooi Yik put up a valiant fight to beat world champions Mohamad Ahsan-Hendra Setiawan 17-21, 21-17, 21-14 for the country’s first medal at the Games on Saturday.
Wan Wah and Boon Heong were relieved that the world No. 9 were able to break the duck for Malaysia in bronze medal playoffs since it was introduced at the 1996 Atlanta Games.
Wan Wah and Boon Heong know the pain of missing out on the bronze after losing with their respective partners Choong Tan Fook and Koo Kien Keat at the 2000 Sydney and the 2012 London editions.
The others who also did not come through the playoffs successfully are Soo Beng Kiang and Tan Kim Her (1996 Atlanta).
Like Aaron-Wooi Yik, Wan Wah-Tan Fook enjoyed a sensational debut in Sydney 2000 by reaching the semi-finals before losing to silver medallists Lee Dong-soo-Yoo Yong-sung of South Korea.
As all their teammates had been eliminated, the hope was on them to win but they lost to Ha Tae-kwon-Kim Dong-moon of South Korea.
“I’m glad that the boys got it right,” said Wan Wah, who is now a member of Japan’s Team B coaching set-up.
“It’s always difficult to pick yourselves up after losing the semis. Then, they had to dig deep after losing the first game in the playoff. An Olympics bronze is special indeed.”
Boon Heong was impressed too.
“Playoff defeat left us heartbroken,” said Boon Heong reflecting on his defeat with Kien Keat to eventual champions Cai Yun-Fu Haifeng of China in the last four.
They went on to play South Korean Lee Yong-dae-Jung Jae-sung but were denied the bronze.
“Bronze is not a consolation. The nation need that medal badly. Aaron-Wooi Yik have brought happiness to the entire nation.
“The boys deserved credit for handling the pressure well. It’s really not easy to come back strongly after losing the opening game and being four points down (at 7-11) in the second.”
The Sidek brothers, Razif and Jalani were the other Malaysian bronze medal winners in the men’s doubles but they earned it by virtue of being the losing semi-finalists in Barcelona 1992.