Tokyo Olympics: Malaysia delights in first medal of Games after victory over arch-rivals Indonesia

Aaron Chia of Malaysia in action as Soh Wooi Yik of Malaysia looks on in the Badminton Men's Doubles quarterfinal on July 29, 2021.
PHOTO: Reuters

Malaysia bagged its first medal of Tokyo 2020 on Saturday (July 31) night as it secured a bronze medal win in the men’s doubles badminton. The victory was all the sweeter as it came at the expense of its fierce rivals in regional sport, Indonesia.

Malaysia’s Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik defeated Hendra Setiawan and Mohammad Ahsan to claim third spot on the podium at the Musashino Forest Sports Plaza in a thrilling back-and-forth encounter.

The world champion duo of Setiawan and Ahsan claimed the first game 21-17 and looked to be on their way to a statement win against their neighbouring nation. But in a thrilling encounter, the Malaysian pair hit back in game two, then snatched victory 21-14 in the deciding game.

“We have to give thanks to all the Malaysians, our supporters, coaches, support staff, our association, our families, parents – everything,” Chia said. “Without their support and motivation, we couldn’t be coming to this stage.”

“When they beat us in the first game, Aaron motivated me,” Soh added. “He wanted me to have more confidence. When I have confidence and my game plan, everything works. What I‘m happy about is we overcame this and could be more confident in the third set.”

They previously defeated another Indonesian pair, Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo, on their run to the podium.

“I want to say sorry to the Indonesians for not being able to bring them any medals,” Ahsan said after the match. “We’ve tried our best and we’re sorry for the outcome.”

“We can admit that the opponents played really well. We were getting attacked really fast, especially in third set,” Hendra added.

Malaysia won five medals at Rio 2016 but has struggled in Japan. Indonesia already has three medals, a silver and two bronze, and is guaranteed a medal in the women’s doubles badminton after Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu reached Monday’s gold medal final.

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This article was first published in South China Morning Post.