PETALING JAYA: Youngsters Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying made Malaysian badminton history yesterday when they became the country’s first ever mixed doubles champions in a top–flight international tournament.
The duo clawed their way back from the brink of defeat to upset world No. 14 Yoo Yeon-seong-Kim Min-jung of South Korea 21-17, 20-22, 21-19 in a 66-minute rollercoaster final of the Asian Badminton Championships (ABC) in New Delhi.
Another back-up pair, Woon Khe Wei-Vivian Hoo, failed to make it a double joy when they went down 10-21, 6-21 to sixth seeds Pan Pan-Tian Qing of China in the women’s doubles final.
The mixed doubles has always been considered one of the weakest links for Malaysia in the past but Peng Soon-Liu Ying’s exploits may change all that.
Prior to their win, Malaysia had never achieved any outstanding results in the mixed doubles.
Among the notable previous achievements were Chew Choon Eng-Chor Hooi Yee’s gold medal victory at the 1999 Brunei SEA Games, Choon Eng-Chin Eei Hui’s silver medal effort at the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games and Koo Kien Keat-Wong Pei Tty’s bronze medal feat at the 2006 World Championships in Madrid.
In fact, none have made it to the mixed doubles final in the home tournament – Malaysian Open – since the event was introduced in 1967.
Peng Soon-Liu Ying are now assured of tickets for their maiden World Championships in August and they are also set to break into the top 20 bracket in the world rankings for the first time.
Peng Soon, who will celebrate his 22nd birthday on April 29, was on cloud nine after the breakthrough performance in the regional tournament.
”This is the best ever surprise. I never thought we would be able to win here. We had lost to the Koreans in the same tournament at the quarter-finals last year but, this time, we had our revenge,” said Peng Soon in a telephone interview.
“It feels amazing to be the first Malaysian pair to win at the ABC and also the first to do so in a senior international tournament.
“The win did not come easy for us but we did not give up although the odds were stacked against us.”
After a hard-fought opening game win, the Malaysians looked good to wrap up the match after staging a great comeback from 14-18 to level at 20-20 in the second game.
But their eagerness to win saw the Koreans dragging them into the decider.
Things looked bleak for Malaysia when Liu Ying had to take a short break due to a knee pain while trailing 6-11 in the rubber game.
But she surprised everyone by hanging on and the Malaysians slowly but surely got back into the game to romp home for a 21-19 win.
It is the second title for Peng Soon after having won the men’s doubles with Lim Khim Wah at the Thailand Open last year.
The 20-year-old Liu Ying was on top of the world yesterday.
“Peng Soon and I had problems before this ABC meet. I was quite negative about the partnership and I lacked trust. But we mended our differences and today Peng Soon played really well,” said Liu Ying.
Men’s singles: Lin Dan (Chn) bt Wang Zhengming (Chn) 21-17, 21-15.
Men’s doubles: Cho Gun-woo-Yoo Yeon-seong (Kor) bt Chen Hung-ling-Lin Yu-lang (Tpe) 21-19, 12-21, 21-17.
Women’s singles: Li Xuerui (Chn) bt Liu Xin (Chn) 21-13, 18-21, 21-19.
Women’s doubles: Pan Pan-Tian Qing (Chn) bt Vivian Hoo-Woon Khe Wei (Mas) 21-10, 21-6.
HOW CHAN PENG SOON-GOH LIU YING WON IT
First round: bt Hendra Wijaya-Shinta Mulia Sari (Sin) 17-21, 21-16, 21-13.
Second round: bt Wang Chia-min-Wang Pei-rong (Tpe) 21-9, 21-11.
Quarter-final: bt Hirokatsu Hashimoto-Mizuki Fujii (Jpn) 18-21, 21-16, 21-9.
Semi-final: Devin Lahardi-Lilyana Natsir (Ina) 22-20, 21-16.
Final: bt Yoo Yeon-seong-Kim Min-jung (Kor) 21-17, 20-22, 21-19.