Malaysia’s mixed doubles pair Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying didn’t make it for the gold. But their silver medal was sufficient to create history. Haters such as pro-government media, Berita Harian and Kosmo’s, which splashed headline “Mixed doubles pair merely manages a silver” and “Peng Soon-Liu Ying disappoint millions of Malaysians” respectively, obviously doesn’t appreciate sports.
The fact remains that Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying brings home the first medal in the history of Malaysia’s Olympics for the badminton mixed doubles category. For 52 years since 1964 when Malaysia (or Malaya in 1956) participated at the Olympic Games, no mixed doubles pair had managed to bring a single medal, let alone a silver, until today.
Coincidently, Berita Harian was foaming at the mouth with pride, declaring Azizulhasni Awang makes history in becoming the first national cyclist to win an Olympic (bronze) medal. Coincidently too, both Berita Harian and Kosmo’s are Malay-language newspapers. Unless both government-controlled print media believe bronze is better than silver, their headlines smelt racism.
If the media really wanted to bring racism into sports, do they know that out of 9 medals that the country has collected (excluding tonight’s badminton men’s single and men’s double) at Olympics since day-1, the ethnic-Chinese brings home all the “silver medals” while the ethnic-Malays merely manages “bronze medals”?
Would the headlines by Berita Harian and Kosmo’s be different if the badminton mixed doubles pair who won the silver medal was Najib Razak-Rosmah Mansor instead? Absolutely!! Can you see how ugly this can go if we want to play racist card? Therefore, let’s not drill into racism and let the national sports be the only institution free from dirty politics.
As mentioned, it’s a known issue with Malaysia badminton players where they would crumble whenever under great pressure. With silver in hand, the pair of Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying should have had treated their match against the giant Indonesia’s Ahmad Tontowi and Liliyana Natsir as if they were their first match – not FINAL for gold medal.
Playing against the superior Tontowi Ahmad-Liliyana Natsir, the pair whom Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying only managed to beat once in their 8 meetings before their Rio 2016 finals, it’s a suicidal mission to bring along the burden of excessive pressure looking for the first-ever gold medal. That’s why mental training and preparation is fantastically important.
And stop blaming weather too because a top player should be prepared to play either in Africa or the Arctic. Danish player – Morten Frost Hansen – won almost every available top level championship, except the World Badminton Championships, earning himself the coolest, calmest and most consistent badminton player. He didn’t blamed weather and neither did Indonesia’s Ahmad Tontowi and Liliyana Natsir.
While Rio 2016 is the best Olympic Games for Malaysia, it’s the worst for China’s badminton. In the women’s doubles, the South Korea thrashed the China team for the bronze. The Great Britain also defeated the China’s men’s doubles for the bronze. What this means is China is not as strong as before, therefore, Malaysia men’s doubles can beat the China for the gold – tonight.
It’s now up to Malaysian badminton men’s doubles pair Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong to make history, if they can demolish the Chinese pair Fu Haifeng and Zhang Nan. Again, it’s their mental strength that would determine if they could avoid making the same silly mistakes made by comrades mixed doubles pair Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying.
What about Malaysian Lee Chong Wei and Chinese Lin Dan? While both will also meet tonight at 7:30pm, earlier than men’s doubles match for gold at 10:15pm, the match between Lee and Lin is not for gold. The semi-finals between Lee Chong Wei and Lin Dan are more towards personal rivalry than gold medal, at least for now.
The 2016 Rio Olympics could be the last for 32-year-old Lin Dan and 33-year-old Lee Chong Wei. Both have met in the last two Olympic finals but it was Lin Dan who took all the glory – winning both gold medals. In a way, the Chinese player has nothing to prove but the same cannot be said about the Malaysian player.
Chong Wei, presently the world No. 1, is obviously desperate to break the curse to win Olympic gold, so that he can retire without having Lin Dan’s shadow haunting him. Because he’s driven by an “anger to prove himself”, Chong Wei could become his own greatest enemy when he plays rival Lin Dan. In fact, very few think Chong Wei can beat Lin Dan.
And it’s not hard to understand why money is on Lin Dan to tame Chong Wei for the third time at the Olympic Games. By the age of 28, Lin Dan had completed the “Super Grand Slam”, having won all 9 major titles in the badminton world – Olympic Games, World Championships, World Cup, Thomas Cup, Sudirman Cup, Super Series Masters Finals, All England Open, Asian Games, and Asian Championships.
Although he rubbished it, Lee Chong Wei knew very well that tense and pressure, the same favourite issue with all Malaysian badminton players, would break him mentally. Chong Wei said, or rather hope, he can “enjoy” the game against Lin Dan. But Lin Dan, an animal who will always rise to the occasion, will give little room for Chong Wei to “enjoy”, especially in major championship such as the Olympics.
Of course, Chong Wei can still refuse to retire after Rio 2016, if he is to be defeated by Lin Dan again. He can play on until Tokyo 2020, of which Lin Dan has indicated he might follow. Regardless, millions of Malaysians are expected to throw their support behind Lee Chong Wei tonight. Here’s how you can watch the match – LIVE – from the link below on your smartphone or tablet.
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