Tokyo Olympics: Malaysian shuttlers provide both joy and sorrow on Day Seven

Lee Zii Jia of Malaysia in action during the match against Chen Long of China at the Musashino Forest Sport Plaza, Tokyo, Japan, July 29, 2021. — Reuters pic
Lee Zii Jia of Malaysia in action during the match against Chen Long of China at the Musashino Forest Sport Plaza, Tokyo, Japan, July 29, 2021. — Reuters pic

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TOKYO, July 29 — It was a day of mixed fortunes for the Malaysian contingent, especially the badminton camp, on Day Seven of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics today.

There was joy in the morning when national men’s doubles shuttlers Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik finally got the better of top seeds and world number one Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo-Marcus Fernaldi Gideon of Indonesia to march stylishly into the semi-finals.

World number nine Aaron-Wooi Yik put on a masterclass performance to subdue the Indonesians 21-14, 21-17 in just 33 minutes at the Musashino Forest Sport Plaza here.

This is the Malaysians’ first win over the Indonesians in eight meetings since their first encounter at the 2018 Malaysia Open. The two pairs last met in the 2020 All England, with Aaron-Wooi Yik losing 17-21,19-21.

The unseeded Aaron-Wooi Yik, who are making their Olympic debut here, are set to meet China’s world number six pair Li Jun Hui-Liu Yu Chen in the last four tomorrow.

However, by evening today, a pall of gloom descended over the national camp when men’s singles shuttler Lee Zii Jia, who was one of those being counted upon to deliver Malaysia’s first-ever Olympic gold, went down fighting in the round of 16.

Zii Jia, who was in sublime form in the first game, couldn’t maintain his rhythm and fell 21-18, 19-21, 5-21 to 2016 Rio Olympics gold medallist Chen Long of China.

Meanwhile, national sailors Nuraisyah Jamil and Juni Karimah Noor Jamali produced a better start on day two of the women’s International 470 event but still finished 18th in Race Three and 20th in Race Four at the Enoshima Yacht Harbour today.

The Malaysians, who are making their Olympic debut, now have 52 net points after four races while Polish sailors Agnieszka Skrzypulec-Jolanta Ogar lead the standings with four net points.

Race Five and Race Six will be held tomorrow.

In the men’s Laser Standard event, sailor Khairulnizam Mohd Afendy ended Race Seven in 26th spot before dropping two spots to 28th in Race Eight today.

Khairulnizam is now 27th out of 35 sailors with 153 net points, with Australian Matt Wearn leading the charge with 29 net points after eight races.

Another national sailor, Nur Shazrin Mohamad Latif, meanwhile, found herself in 28th spot in Race Seven of the women’s Laser Radial event before dropping two spots to 30th in Race Eight.

Nur Shazrin now has 163 net points to be placed 28th out of 44 sailors.

Khairulnizam and Nur Shazrin will compete in the final two races — Race Nine and Race 10 — of their respective events tomorrow.

There was no good news from the golf course either after Gavin Green’s hopes of an ideal start were blown off course when he ended up in joint 57th spot in the field of 60 participants at the end of the first round at the Kasumigaseki Country Club today.

The 27-year-old is tied with Chinese Taipei’s Pan Cheng-tsung after both carded identical three-over 74s.

Meanwhile, national divers Nur Dhabitah Sabri and Wendy Ng Yan Yee will be in action tomorrow in the women’s 3-metre (m) springboard individual preliminary at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.

Tomorrow will also see the start of the athletics competition, with two Malaysians in action —Lee Hup Wei (men’s high jump qualification Group A) and sprinter Azreen Nabila Alias (women’s 100m preliminaries Heat 2) at the Olympic Stadium here.

Hup Wei, 34, who is making his third Olympic appearance after the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London editions, will have to finish among the top-12 to advance to the final.

Azreen Nabila who has a personal best of 11.92 seconds, will be hoping to improve on her personal best after earning a wildcard slot to compete in her maiden Olympics. — Bernama

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