KOO Kien Keat turned up a super-charged performance to earn a historic breakthrough for Malaysia in Commonwealth Games badminton at the Siri Fort Sports Complex yesterday.
Kien Keat hit the jackpot in his maiden mixed doubles partnership with Chin Eei Hui and they nailed the only gold medal to elude by beating top seeds Nathan Robertson-Jenny Wallwork of England 22-20, 21-12 in 36 minutes.
Kien Keat returned to the court barely two hours later to bag the men’s doubles gold medal. Partnering Tan Boon Heong, they beat Robertson-Anthony Clark 21-19, 21-14.
The unseeded Kien Keat-Eei Hui had taken a comfortable 19-14 lead in the first game but allowed Robertson-Wallwork to grab six consecutive points.
Kien Keat covered well for the error-prone Eei Hui and he single-handedly won the next three points to take the tight first game.
There was some early resistance from Robertson-Wallwork in the second game but they were resigned to taking silver after Kien Keat-Eei Hui collected nine straight points to lead 17-8.
There were no display of emotional joy, knowing the gold was already in the bag, even after Robertson sent the shuttle wide at the baseline, to hand the match and the gold to Kien Keat-Eei Hui.
However, Kien Keat was aware of the significance of the mixed doubles triumph.
“The schedule has been taxing but we were only one match from the gold and I was all pumped up today,” he said.
“We were very tensed in the opening minutes and we conceded easy points.
“They were keeping me away from the net as it was our strong point.
“But we were patient and I am glad that it paid off.”
The three gold medals won by Kien Keat in Delhi, the other from the mixed team competition, made him the most successful Malaysian athlete at the 19th Commonwealth Games.
Eei Hui will be delighted to improve on the silver medal she earned in her outing in the mixed doubles at the 2002 Manchester Games with Chew Choon Eng, which was until yesterday the best Malaysia effort in the event.
Doubles coach Rexy Mainaky said they knew that the key to success for Kien Keat-Eei Hui was to pile on the pressure on Wallwork.
“She gets tense under attack and with her making mistakes, Robertson’s concentration was affected. It worked in our favour today,” he said.
Wallwork praised Kien Keat for his performance.
“We could not keep up with the pace. Koo is a fantastic player. He is very strong and creative.
He played the best I’ve seen him play,” she said.
THE GOLDEN PATHS
KOO KIEN KEAT-CHIN EEI HUI
First round: Saheer Ramrakha-Foo Kune (Mri) 21-10, 21-16
Second round: Kieran Merrilees- Kirsty Gilmour (Sco) 21-7, 21-14
Third round: Toby Ng-Grace Gao (Can) 21-7, 21-16
Quarter-finals: Valiyaveetil Diju-Jwala Gutta (Ind) 21-13, 21-19
Semi-finals: Triyachart Chayut-Yao Lei (Sin) 19-21, 21-16, 21-18
Final: Nathan Robertson-Jenny Wallwork (Eng) 22-20, 21-12
LEE CHONG WEI (men’s singles)
First round: bye
Second round: Alex Pang (Can) 21-11, 21-10
Third round: Juma Muwowo (Zam) 21-9, 21-9
Quarter-finals: Ashton Chen (Sin) 21-13, 21-11
Semi-finals: Chetan Anand (Ind) 21- 11, 21-12;
Final: Rajiv Ouseph (Eng) 21-10, 21-8
KOO KIEN KEAT-TAN BOON HEONG
First round: bye
Second round: Joe Morgan-James Phillips (Wal) 21-11, 21-18
Quarter-finals: Oliver Leydon-Davis- Henry Tam (Nzl) 21-16, 21-13
Semi-finals: Hendri Kurniawan Saputra- Hendra Wijaya (Sin) 21-11, 21-8
Final: Nathan Robertson-Anthony Clark (Eng) 21-19, 21-14