KUALA LUMPUR, July 31 – Malaysia celebrated their first medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and it came from badminton when Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik came from a game down to defeat Indonesia’s Hendra Setiawan-Mohammad Ahsan 17-21, 21-17, 21-14 for the bronze medal in the men’s doubles.
While the bronze medal achieved in a 52-minute encounter did not come easy, it certainly saved Malaysian badminton the blushes from returning home without a medal after an all-time high of three silver medals in the Rio Olympics five years ago.
Malaysia won the silver medal in Rio in the men’s singles (Datuk Lee Chong Wei), Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong (men’s doubles) and Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying in the mixed doubles.
If we are to take the bronze medal effort by Aaron-Wooi Yik in account, it simply means that Malaysian badminton is on a slide.
Malaysian badminton is losing its grip in the shuttle sport while other nations have improved by leaps and bounds.
The tears shed by Aaron and Wooi Yik after the bronze medal spoke of their feelings they endured in Tokyo. They were hailed as gold medal prospects after their stunning 21-14, 21-17 over Indonesia’s top seeds Marcus Fernaldi Gideon-Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo.
However, failed to ride on their momentum in the semi-finals and lost 22-24, 13-21 to China’s former world champions Li Jun Hui-Liu Yu Chen.
The bronze medal playoff was a tremendous effort by the Malaysians who had lost 16-21, 19-21 to Hendra Setiawan-Mohammad Ahsan in a Group D match.
It could be tears of joy or tears of frustration. Joy for winning the bronze medal and frustration for not being able to make the final.
It was a case of so near yet so far – that summed up their topsy turvy run in Tokyo. Still the bronze medal counts in many ways for the game and the nation.
Kudos to the pair for saving Malaysian badminton from embarrassment in Tokyo. Badminton was a gold medal target after Lee Zii Jia won this year’s All-England in March.
Much hope was pinned on the 23-year-old Kedah-born Zii Jia but he failed to make the quarter-finals following a 8-21, 21-19, 21-5 defeat to reigning Olympic champion Chen Long of China.

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