KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia defied the odds to beat China but had to concede defeat at the hands of South Korea in the mixed team event of the Asian Junior Badminton Championships at Kuala Lumpur Badminton Stadium in Cheras yesterday.
The Bukit Jalil Sports School players had risen to the occasion when they stopped China 3-1 in the semi-finals earlier in the day.
Tan Wee Kiong-Woon Khe Wei gave Malaysia the first point when they beat the Chinese mixed doubles pair of Li Tian-Ma Jin 21-15, 19-21, 21-19.
Mohd Arif Latif failed to get the better of defending boys' singles champion Liu Qi Cheng but Lydia Cheah put Malaysia on top again.
Lydia played a brilliant attacking game to stop top Chinese junior Wang Yihan 25-23, 21-17.
Lim Khim Wah-Mak Hee Chun delivered the winning point when they beat Li Tian-Hu Wen Qing 21-15, 21-19.
The odds were certainly against Malaysia in the final, considering that South Korea had the services of Lee Yong-dae, who featured for the senior side in the Thomas Cup Finals in Japan in May.
The 17-year-old, who is tipped to become a world-class doubles player in the near future, lived up to expectations by helping to win two crucial points in the boys' doubles and mixed doubles.
However, Malaysia did not give up and went the distance before bowing out 2-3 in the final.
After losing the mixed doubles match, the pressure was on Mohd Arif to salvage a point for Malaysia from the boys' singles.
The 17-year-old did not disappoint and he overcame fatigue to chalk up an upset win over Hoong Ji-hoon, who was the singles runner-up in last year's championship. Arif won 14-21, 21-11, 22-20.
Lydia continued her outstanding performance when she delivered Malaysia's second point after beating Jang Soo-young 21-23, 21-8, 21-13.
However, Malaysian hopes ended when the boys' doubles pair of Lim Khim Wah-Mak Hee Chun lost 11-21, 15-21 to Yong-dae-Cho Gun-woo.
South Korea clinched the deciding match when their girls' doubles pair of Yoo Hyun-young-Sun In-jang defeated Malaysia's Woon Khe Wei and Ho Bee Ling 21-16, 21-16.
MIXED TEAM RESULTS
Semi-finals: Malaysia bt China 3-1 (Tan Wee Kiong-Woon Khe Wei bt Li Tian-Ma Jin 21-15, 19-21, 21-19; Mohd Arif Latif lost to Lu Qi Cheng 18-21, 27-25, 14-21; Lydia Cheah bt Wang Yihan 25-23, 21-17; Lim Khim Wah-Mak Hee Chun bt Li Tian-Hu Wen Qing 21-15, 21-19); South Korea bt Indonesia 3-1 (Hong Ji-hoon bt Wisnu Haryoputro 22-20, 15-21, 14-21; Kim Moon-hi lost to Pia Zebadiah Bernadet 11-21, 21-19, 19-21; Lee Yong-dae-Cho Gun-woo bt Fernando Kurniawan-Subakti 21-15, 21-8; Lee Yong-dae-Yoo Hyung-young bt Subakti-Lily Siswanti 21-12, 21-11).
Final: South Korea bt Malaysia 3-2 (Lee Yong-dae-Yoo Hyun-young bt Tan Wee Kiong-Woon Khe Wei 21-18, 21-12; Hoong Ji-hoon lost to Mohd. Arif Latif 21-14, 11-21, 22-20; Jang Soo-young lost to Lydia Cheah 23-21, 8-21, 13-21; Lee Yong-dae-Cho Gun-woo bt Lim Khim Wah-Mak Hee Chun 21-11, 21-15; Yoo Hyun-young-Sun In-jang bt Woon Khe Wei-Ho Bee Ling 21-16, 21-16).