THE men’s singles and doubles badminton gold medals are for the taking but it is in the mixed doubles that the scratch pair of Koo Kien Keat-Chin Eei Hui are in a position to make a historic breakthrough for Malaysia today.
The vast experience of the duo in doubles play helped them overcome third seeded Singaporeans Triyachart Chayut-Yao Lei 19-21, 21-16, 21-18 in 65 minutes in the semi-final on Tuesday.
Top seeds Nathan Robertson-Jenny Wallwork of England prevented an all-Malaysian final by beating Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying 19-21, 21-13, 23-21 and the established pair will start as the favourites.
Malaysia have yet to win a Commonwealth Games gold medal in mixed doubles badminton, an event dominated by English pairs.
But doubles coach Rexy Mainaky, who was put on the end of the seat watching his charges battling it out in the semi-finals, hoped that Kien Keat-Eei Hui would claim a bonus gold for Malaysia.
“Kien Keat-Eei Hui have come through the crucial situation and they are now just one step away from winning the mixed doubles gold for the first time,” he said.
“It is the first time that they are play as a pair in competitions but they have been consistent,” he said.
“Kien Keat has beaten them (Robertson-Wallwork) before when he partnered Wong Pei Tty. The chances are even but they have nothing to lose.”
Eei Hui was not playing at her best in the semi-finals and was counting on the support from Kien Keat but Rexy is confident that she can shake off the jitters.
“She was not setting the shuttle well. I hope our pair use their experience well and stay patient against the English pair,” said Rexy, adding that the one-day rest before the final was good for the players, especially for those on double duty, including Kien Keat.
Kien Keat will also be gunning for a second consecutive men’s doubles title, this time partnering Tan Boon Heong against Robertson-Anthony Clark. Kien Keat was the gold medallist with Chan Chong Ming at the 2006 Melbourne Games.
World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei is in a different class compared to Rajiv Ouseph of England and he should have no problem securing the men’s singles crown for a second consecutive time.
Wong Mew Choo, however, may have to be satisfied with another silver medal as it will very tough indeed to get the better of home favourite Saina Nehwal unless the world No. 3 is overwhelmed by the pressure. Mew Choo was beaten by Saina in three gruelling games in the mixed team final, which Malaysia won 3-1.
Mew Choo reached the final in Melbourne but lost to Tracey Hallam of England. The only time Malaysia won the women’s singles title was in 1978 in Edmonton, Canada, through Sylvia Ng.