Tokyo: Cheah Liek Hou created history on Saturday when he delivered a gold medal at the biggest stage to become not only the first gold medalist for the entire badminton event at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games but also winning the first gold medal in badminton for Malaysia at the Paralympics.
Badminton became an official Paralympic sport for the first time at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Cheah started the day playing against Fang Jen-yu of Chinese Taipei in the semi-finals of the SU5 category (athletes in SU5 have impairments in their upper limbs).
As usual, Cheah got into a habit of a slow start and Fang seized the opportunity to lead pretty much the whole game by winning the first set 21-15.
Cheah then returned to the court playing more aggressively to win the next two sets 21-10, 21-16 to advance to the final.
Perhaps the semi-final match has given Cheah enough warm-up, and when the 33-year-old Malaysian took the court Saturday afternoon to faceoff against World No. 1 Dheva Anrimusthi of Indonesia in the final, he caught his opponent by surprise as Cheah became much aggressive and attacking than normal to start the first game.
Cheah was leading most of the first game until Anrimusthi managed to reverse the lead at 16-15. The Malaysian held his nerve and dug deep to snatch the first game from the 22-year-old Indonesian 21-17 in a tense battle.
The World No. 2 Cheah and World No. 1 Anrimusthi continued their see-saw battle in the second set. Trailing by 13-14, Cheah who lost to Anrimusthi in the semi-final of the 2019 BWF Para-Badminton World Championships, reeled off 7 consecutive points to put himself one point away from winning the gold medal. Cheah then managed to capitalize on his smash which hit the top of the net and then bounced over to Anrimusthi’s side to claim the gold medal point.
Match point won by Cheah Liek Hou:
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See how Cheah’s family react after he won the match point:
— pekxian (@syennn__) September 4, 2021
Cheah Liek Hou on the podium with Dheva Anrimusthi and Suryo Nugroho:
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After winning the gold medal, Cheah expressed his gratitude to Malaysia’s badminton legend, Lee Chong Wei for giving him advice on how to handle the pressure.
“Chong Wei gave a lot of useful advice. He told me the pressure would definitely be there because everyone was expecting me to produce good results,” said Cheah to Badminton World Federation (BWF).
“I want to thank Chong Wei and would like to dedicate this gold medal for all badminton fans in Malaysia,” added Cheah.
Cheah was born with Erb’s palsy, which causes his right hand to have less strength and stability. He took up badminton at age 9.
With the achievement in Tokyo, Cheah has now completed a collection of major championships in his career after winning six men’s singles at the World Championships (2005, 2007, 2011, 2013, 2015, and 2017) and two men’s singles at the Asian Para Games (2010, 2014).