KUALA LUMPUR: Future stars Tan Wee Kiong-Woon Khe Wei saved the blushes for Malaysia when they nailed the country’s first mixed doubles title but Mohd Arif Abdul Latif faltered at the crucial moment in the boys’ singles in the Rakan Muda Yonex Sunrise Asian Junior Championships at Juara Stadium in Bukit Kiara yesterday.
Yesterday, Wee Kiong-Khe Wei staged a remarkable comeback to beat South Korean Shin Baek-cheol-Yoo Hyun-young 21-18, 18-21, 21-12 in an exciting 46-minute final.
It is the country’s first mixed doubles title in the Asian junior series.
But it was the only title of the day for Malaysia as the other three representatives lost in the final of the boys’ singles (Arif), boys’s doubles (Wee Kiong-Mohd Lutfi Zaim Abdul Khalid) and the girls’ doubles (Lydia Cheah-Tee Jing Yi).
With the win yesterday, Wee Kiong-Khe Wei had made up for their disappointment of finishing as the runner-up in their debut in the Asian junior meet last year.
The 18-year-old Wee Kiong was thrilled with the victory.
“This is the sweetest achievement in my badminton career. And I will always cherish this moment,” said a delighted Wee Kiong.
“We have not dropped a single match in our second Asian outing (including the mixed team event). playing in major international tournaments like the Sudirman Cup has given us a lot of confidence. Our next goal is to win the World junior title (in Auckland in November),” he said.
Wee Kiong could have been the first Malaysian to win three titles in an Asian junior meet but it did not happen after he lost in the boys’ doubles final with Lutfi.
They went down tamely at 12-21, 8-21 to China’s Chai Biao-Li Tian.
The sweet Khe Wei was over the moon with the achievement.
“Firstly, I want to thank coach Rexy (Mainaky). He gave us a lot of opportunity to compete in major tournaments. He has helped a lot. Our thanks also to coaches Jeremy Gan, Sun Chenhua, (Koay) Kar Lin and all our teammates,” she said.
The duo’s next target is the World Championships, which will be held at Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil from Aug 13-19 and both have vowed to do their best.
The 18-year-old Arif was devastated after blowing away a golden chance to end his campaign in the Asian junior meet with a bang when he squandered a 20-19 lead in the rubber game against China’s Chen Long.
The youngster, who was more skilful than the Chinese, went down 21-18, 18-21, 20-22 in a gruelling final that lasted 65 minutes.
“I had wanted so badly to end my Asian junior outing on a great note but it did not happen.
“In fact, I let slip a good chance despite taking a 10-5 and 20-19 lead in the rubber game. But overall, I am happy to have reached the final.”
In the girls’ doubles, Lydia-Jing Yi, who had never trained as doubles players, went down 12-21, 21-15, 18-21 to Indonesian Puspita Richi Dili-Debby Susanto.
Said Malaysian junior team’s chief coach Chenhua: “We were in three finals last year but did not win a title. This year, we entered four finals for the first time and bagged one title. That is an achievement for us.”