KUALA LUMPUR: It was an outstanding day for Malaysian badminton when their juniors scored several firsts en route to qualifying for three of the five finals in the Asian Junior Badminton Championships yesterday.
Spurred on by a huge number of supporters from the Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS), youngster Lydia Cheah showed the way when she became the first Malaysian to reach the girls' singles final in the Asian meet at the Kuala Lumpur Badminton Stadium (KLBA).
In fact, the 17-year-old Lydia is the first Malaysian to reach a final in either a junior or Open women competition with the best of Chinese players around.
Malaysia also reached the finals of the boys' doubles through Mohd Arif Abdul Latif-Vountus Indra Mawan and the mixed doubles through the new lethal combinations of Tan Wee Kiong-Woon Khe Wei.
But it was Lydia who made the biggest breakthrough yesterday by crushing the Great Wall of China en route to the final in style.
She knocked out Cheng Wen 21-10, 21-17 in the quarter-finals and made a superb comeback to oust Han Li 19-21, 21-15, 21-11 in the semi-finals.
Today, she will be out to beat Wang Yihan her third Chinese opponent in a row for the Asian junior title.
Lydia has an advantage over Wang. Just a few days ago, she beat the current China's top junior in the mixed team event.
Lydia, who is only seeded joint 5th-8th, said that she would brace herself for the toughest time in her life.