SINGAPORE, June 16 ― Chong Wei Feng made an emphatic statement to Malaysia's badminton selectors while Indonesia maintained an edge over their regional rivals with an epic victory in the Southeast Asian Games mixed doubles final today.
At 36, Chong is Malaysia's highest-ranked player but was overlooked for one of the two slots available to his country at the World Championships in August with former number one Datuk Lee Chong Wei and prospect Zulfadli Zulkiffli selected instead.
The 28-year-old has often flattered to deceive and contemplated quitting after he was told he would not be going to Jakarta but action speaks louder than words and he was practically shouting on the Singapore Indoor Stadium court.
Chong edged Thai top seed Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk in three sets yesterday but was far too strong for compatriot Mohamad Arif Abdul Latif in the final, cruising to a 21-8 21-9 victory to give Malaysia their first men's singles gold since 2001.
The victory secured a maiden individual title for Chong and was never in doubt once he raced to a 9-0 lead in the first game, as he appeared far hungrier than Abdul Latif, who looked a beaten man well before he lost the opening game.
The highlight of the final day of competition was the mixed doubles final, however, in which Indonesia's Praveen Jordan and Debby Susanto saved three match points before edging Malaysia's Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying 18-21 21-13 25-23.
The world number 11 pair were expected to win but with Goh getting back to her best after spending a year out of the game to recover from double knee surgery, the Malaysians are looking more like the duo that was ranked third in the world in 2013.
After trading the opening two games, neither pair could forge ahead in the decider as nerves and adrenalin took over before Jordan rubber stamped a brilliant rally with a cross court smash that left all four players slumped on the floor.
The win was Indonesia's third of the badminton tournament after Angga Pratama and Ricky Karanda Suwardi beat compatriots Markus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo 21-12 24-22 in the men's doubles with all four involved in the country's men's team final victory over Thailand last week.
The women's singles title went to favourite and world number 18 Busanan Ongbumrungpan of Thailand, who was given a real test by little-known Indonesian Hanna Ramadhini for a game and a half before pulling away for a 21-17 21-12 triumph.
Busanan had helped the Thai women win the team title last week and was expected to brush aside the world number 54 but needed to dig deep from 10-3 down in the second game to bully her way to victory over an exhausted Ramadhini.
In the women's doubles, Amelia Alicia Anscelly and Soong Fie Cho upset Vivian Hoo Kah Mun and Woon Khe Wei 21-18 21-13 in an all-Malaysian affair to earn the country a second gold of the day. ― Reuters