NAYPYITAW: Woon Khe Wei-Vivian Hoo provided Malaysian badminton with the only saving grace when they captured the SEA Games gold medal in women’s doubles.
On Saturday, Khe Wei-Vivian put up a great fight to beat favourites Nitya Krishinda-Greysia Polii of Indonesia 21-17, 18-21, 21-17 in a gruelling final at the Wunna Theikdi Indoor Stadium C in Naypyitaw.
Their sensational victory revealed two things – that they are truly able replacements for former internationals Chin Eei Hui-Wong Pei Tty; and Khe Wei is definitely back on the road to success after her long lay off due to injuries.
Two-time SEA Games champions Eei Hui-Pei Tty quit the game last year and are currently working as national coaches.
In the seniors’ absence, Khe Wei-Vivian showed their potential to become the country’s top pair when they won the Indonesian Open Grand Prix Gold in late 2011 but a string of injuries to the former halted their progress.
But it’s good to see that things are picking up for them and fans can surely count on them to give a fighting display in three major tournaments next year – the Commonwealth Games, World Championships and Asian Games.
Khe Wei, however, does not want her partnership with Vivian to be compared to Eei Hui-Pei Tty just yet.
“Our seniors have carved their own achievements. All Vivian and I want to do is to create our own set of accomplishments,” said Khe Wei.
“It has been a tough year for us because of my injury but I am glad that winning the SEA Games gold medal has shown that we got so much more to offer. This achievement here will only spur us to go the extra mile.”
The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM), however, should not be satisfied with the solitary gold won by the girls at the Games.
While Indonesia and Thailand have produced plenty of players for the future, Malaysia’s lack of depth in the back-up squad was severely exposed in other events – especially in the singles department.
Despite not sending their best team, Indonesia had a player in every final and they won three titles – Rian Agung Saputra-Angga Pratama (men’s doubles), Mohd Rijal-Debby Susanto (mixed doubles) and Bellaetrix Manuputty (women’s singles).
An energetic Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk took the men’s singles title to show that Thailand too have talented shuttlers apart from their long-serving senior Boonsak Ponsana.
For Malaysia, the continued dependence on world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei does not augur well. And if nothing is done to rectify the situation, Malaysia will again be caught with their pants down at the next SEA Games.