With first singles sweep in 46 years, badminton exceeds target

Zii Jia, draped in Jalur Gemilang, thanks Malaysian fans after winning. (Bernama pic)

MANILA: Lee Zii Jia and S Kisona won the men’s and women’s singles titles at the SEA Games today, reviving memories of Malaysia’s dominance 46 years ago.

The last time Malaysia swept both titles was in 1973 – when both of them were not born yet – through Punch Gunalan and Sylvia Ng in Singapore.

The unseeded Kisona showed the fighter in her when she came back from one game down to beat Indonesia’s Ruselli Hartawan in the final at Muntinlupa Sports Complex.

After dropping the first game 22-20, Kisona tightened her play to win the next two 21-14, 21-13.

“I want to thank the management and coaches for trusting me to play singles,” the 21-year-old, who was drafted in to replace the unwell Goh Jin Wei, told reporters.

“They did not set me a target and just wanted me to give my best shot. I have proven myself.”

Malaysia’s gold medallists (from left) Aaron, Wooi Yik, Kisona and Zii Jia. (Bernama pic)

National men’s singles No 1 Zii Jia continued Malaysia’s fine display when he beat Singapore’s Loh Kean Yew in their final.

The world No 14 dictated play from the start to take the first game 21-18.

In the second game, he capitalised on his opponent’s mistakes to romp home 21-18.

“I feel like going on leave to release all the pressure,” said Zii Jia, who was knocked out in the second round in Kuala Lumpur two years ago.

Men’s pair Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik completed a memorable day by delivering the third gold on the last day of competition. BA of Malaysia had set the team a 1-gold target before the Games.

Their 18-21, 21-15, 21-16 win over Thailand’s Bodin Isara-Maneepong Jongjit also ended a 16-year wait for men’s doubles gold. Choong Tan Fook-Lee Wan Wah were the last to win in 2003.

“This is our first ever international success, something we have been waiting for a long time,” said an elated Aaron.