[By Azri Firman Bin Aqil]
It has been more than a week since the Asian Games 2014 officially opened and Team Malaysia so far has had a mixed campaign. Some have prevailed while some have disappointed. Here are some of the highlights:
It’s the tale of two events for Malaysia. In the compound, Mohd Zaki Mahazan and Mohd Juwaidi Mazuki came off strong by qualifying for the individual elimination round. However, the team was bested by India in the quarter-finals. But Mahazan performed exceptionally, making it to the semi-finals while Juwaidi faltered in the second round.
In the recurve, Malaysia reached the team final when they plowed through Nepal, Hong Kong and even one of the favorites, Japan, beating them by huge margins as they went on to face China in the final. However, Khairul Anuar Mohamad and Atiq Bazil Bakri, who are also on the Malaysian team, were eliminated in the last 16 and the last 8 by the same person: Japan’s Hideki Kikuchi.
It’s just the same old story when Malaysia faces China in any category. Both the men’s and the women’s team got knocked out by China by the same scoreline of 3-0. The only difference is that the women’s team were eliminated in the quarters while the men’s team got knocked out in the semis, which resulted in them getting the bronze.
However, Malaysia evened the playing field in the best possible way. Vivien Hoo-Woon Khe Wei shocked the badminton world when they sent the 2013 world champions, China’s Wang Xiaoli-Yu Yang, packing in the last 16 and in the process, guaranteed Malaysia a medal in the women’s doubles since the 44 years when they won the bronze.
And it’s smooth sailing so far for Dato’ Lee Chong Wei and Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong when the latter stunned third-seeded Japanese pair, Kenichi Hayakawa-Hiroyuki Endo to guarantee a medal in the men’s doubles.
The bowling events started off as a major disappointment. None of the bowlers had stepped up and won a medal, and the pressure was mounting on them. Zulmazran Zulkifli came closest to scoring a medal, losing out a bronze by just one pin while Esther Cheah could only muster fifth place. None of the men’s doubles were able to retain their gold medal from Guangzhou four years ago and didn’t even make the top 5, with Alex Liew-Rafiq Ismail finishing highest at ninth.
However, Shalin Zulkifli and Sin Li Jane finally ended the despair when they won the silver medal in the women’s doubles.
The sport that Malaysians are all so crazy about gained the least expectations of a medal. Starting off with a loss against South Korea 3-0, they came back strong with a 4-0 victory over Laos. However, they bowed out rather meekly, losing 3-0 to Saudi Arabia as the Harimau Muda disappointed again.
Where has it all gone wrong for Malaysia in the sport that they invented? They were thoroughly humbled by Thailand in the semis, up to the point that the Thais actually taunted them saying that there is no way they could lose the match. And they kept their promise. Not even the bronze medal can ease Malaysia’s humiliation.
Let’s start off with the individual events. Dato’ Nicol David is now tied with three other athletes as the most decorated athlete in the Asiad Games when she won the gold by defeating fellow Malaysian Low Wee Wern, who won a silver as well. But for Ong Beng Hee, his last Asiad games ended on a sad note. Just one step away from the final, he lost out to top seed Saurav Ghosal of India in the semis, which resulted in a bronze medal.
In the team events, it was jubilation for the women’s team but agony for the men. The women’s team beat India 2-0 to win the gold medal while the men lost 2-0, also to India.
For more news about the other sports categories, check out: http://www.thestar.com.my/Topics/2014/09/15/Asian-Games/