MALAYSIA'S 36-year wait for Asian Games badminton gold came to an end at 1.18 this morning as Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong clinched the doubles gold medal by beating Indonesian fifth seeds Luluk Hadiyanto-Alven Yulianto 21-13, 21-14 in the final.
It may not have been a vintage performance from the Malaysians but that didn't matter considering how young their partnership is but the aggressive attacking play that coach Rexy Mainaky had wanted, demanded in fact, was the difference between the two pairs.
There was luck too, as the Indonesians were surprisingly erratic but that could well be due to the respect that the unseeded Kien Keat-Boon Heong have earned in the individual competition.
Last Monday, their defeat to South Korean pair Lee Jae Jin-Hwang Jiman forced a disgusted and disappointed Rexy to quit but this will surely not be the case anymore as the Indonesian will feel that he has, finally, a pair he can develop into world and Olympic contenders.
"The 36-year figure had us a little nervous at the start but we were desperate to win. We failed to deliver in the team event and we wanted to make up for this.
"This gold medal is not only ours but that of the fans. We dedicate this win to all Malaysians," said Kien Keat, only 21 but a solid player in the final.
The Aspire Indoor Stadium was packed to the brim with Malaysian and Indonesian fans. The Indonesians were already in a celebratory mood after Taufik Hidayat retained the singles title after beating world champion and top seed Lin Dan of China 21-15, 22-20.
But Kien Keat-Boon Heong raced to a 3-0 lead in the first game with their stalking approach at the net and from that point, they never looked back as they always had a minimum three-point lead over the Indonesians.
The first game was sealed in 12 minutes but the Malaysian fans were a little subdued in their celebrations as time and again, Malaysian shuttlers have flattered only to deceive.
The second game was a closer affair with Luluk-Alven taking the first point and it was touch and go till 10-10 when the Malaysians hit a purple patch and took a 14-10 lead.
They increased that to 18-12 and still, the fans dare not believe.
But after surrendering two points, Kien Keat-Boon Heong regained service at 19-14 and two exchanges later, the gold was theirs as the stadium erupted.