Shaky start, strong finish

Going all out: Aaron Chia in action during the men’s doubles match against China’s He Jiting-Tan Qiang. — Badminton Photo

PETALING JAYA: A year of hardship has ended with the best result for mixed doubles pair Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai Jemie on and off the badminton court.

Soon Huat-Shevon ran out of steam when they lost 15-21, 13-21 to the current world No. 1 pair Dechapol Puavaranukroh-Sapsiree Taerattanachai of Thailand in the quarter-finals of the World Championships in Huelva, Spain, yesterday but still, it was their best performance in the series.

The duo, who announced to the world that they are a couple now, have finally cleared the early rounds in their third attempt.

While disappointed with the outcome, Shevon said their maiden quarter-finals finish in the world meet has made all their struggles throughout this year worthwhile.

“It’s been a really tough year for us, which started with the Thailand tournament in the beginning of the year... I went through the most immense pressure of my career when I was left out of the national squad. Everything went down to zero,” recalled Shevon.

“There were plenty of uncertainties ahead, for instance, regarding funding, arrangements, training and tournaments.

“We could not train for three months because of the lockdown. We only had a short training period.

“It has been a huge rollercoaster ride for both of us, but I can confidently say that it has also made us much stronger as individuals and as a pair.

“We’ve both learnt very much to be independent and dependent on each other,” she said.

On their eighth defeat in 14 meetings against the Thai pair, Shevon said: “We could not match the speed and game play of our opponents today. Overall, there have been some progress in our game but there is still room for improvement.”

Said Soon Huat: “It’s a good end to the year for us after a shaky start.

“We’ll take a short break, spend time with our family and start all over again. We’re looking forward to the German Open and All-England.”

Soon Huat-Shevon were the only representatives in the quarter-finals following the exits of Hoo Pang Ron-Cheah Yee See and Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing in the third round.

Meanwhile, in the men’s singles, Lee Zii Jia said he was his worst enemy after winning his third round match against Hans-Kristian Vittinghus of Denmark.

The Malaysian prevailed 21-15, 15-21, 21-10 on Thursday to set up a meeting against Anders Antonsen of Denmark.

“It was a tough game and my condition is not at my best.

“I’m happy that I came through despite being in this condition,” said Zii Jia.

“I hope to keep it simple and not over think on what I need to do. I think right now, my biggest opponent is myself.”

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