MALAYSIA'S long wait for a badminton world champion is over.
Men's doubles duo Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik managed what Misbun Sidek, Lee Chong Wei and Lee Zii Jia could not, as they netted the BWF World Championships title in Tokyo on Sunday (28 August).
They did it against formidable opponents - Indonesia's three-time world champions Hendra Setiawan and Mohammad Ahsan - producing a superb switch in tactics to subdue the third seeds 21-19, 21-14 in 40 minutes.
"Of course we are so happy to make ourselves proud, to make our country proud, as the first Malaysian world champions,” Chia, 25, told Badminton World Federation after the win.
"“We have partnered each other for four years and we have often lost in the finals and semi-finals, but now we’ve finally got the title," Soh, 24, added.
"I have done a lot of work on my backcourt play. I’m a frontcourt player, but I wanted to be an all-round player too. This is the strategy we’ve been working on.”
Down 12-18 in the first game, Chia and Soh made a tactical change to bypass the net play, where the Indonesian were dominating, and began extending the rallies towards the backcourt. It paid off dividends immediately, as they won nine of the next 10 points to clinch the first game.
Buoyed by the successful tactical switch, the Malaysian world No.6 duo kept up their intensity in the second game, as the veteran Indonesians began to tire. Upon clinching the final point, Chia and Soh roared and fell to their knees, delirious with joy after finally breaking their country's duck at the World Championships.
In the men's singles final, world No.1 Viktor Axelsen clinched his second world title after subduing Thailand's Kunlavut Vitidsarn 21-5, 21-16 in 50 minutes. The Dane thus adds the world title to his Olympic gold medal, both won in Tokyo.
Top-seeded women's singles star Akane Yamaguchi gave the home crowd much to cheer about, as the Japanese retained her world title after a 68-minute battle with China's Chen Yufei, winning 21-12, 10-21, 21-14.
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