Mixed doubles title for South-east Asia

Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir of Indonesia celebrate winning their match against Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei of China.
Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir of Indonesia celebrate winning their match against Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei of China.PHOTO: REUTERS

RIO DE JANEIRO • South-east Asia is set for a maiden badminton mixed doubles Olympic gold medal when Indonesia and Malaysia face off in today's final.

The two nations ended China's dreams of repeating their 2012 London sweep of all five badminton titles.

Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying landed the first blow, dumping London silver medallists Xu Chen and Ma Jin in their mixed doubles semi-final with a 21-12, 21-19 win to send Malaysian fans at the Riocentro into a frenzy.

Indonesia's Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir then delivered the knockout blow by upsetting London 2012 champions Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei 21-16, 21-15 in the other semi-final.

"I'm feeling really sad," 26-year-old Zhang told Reuters, pledging to return with the team to Tokyo in 2020. "Since the last Games, I prepared so hard to defend the title and sacrificed a lot, but in the end I just didn't play as well as I had wanted."

It got even better for Malaysia yesterday, with the men's doubles pair of Tan Wee Kiong and Goh V Shem upsetting the world No. 5 Chinese duo Chai Biao and Hong Wei to reach yet another final.

Roared on by a raucous contingent of home fans, the 12th-ranked pair closed out an impressive 21-18, 12-21, 21-17 win to give Malaysia another chance to win its first-ever Olympic gold. They will face China's Fu Haifeng and Zhang Nan in the final on Friday, having earlier beaten the Chinese pair in the group stage.

In the women's doubles, Misaki Matsumoto and Ayaka Takahashi put Japan in line for their first Olympic medal in badminton by defeating South Korea's Jung Kyung Eun and Shin Seung Chan 21-16, 21-15.

The women's doubles final will take place tomorrow, when the Japanese duo take on Denmark's Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2016, with the headline 'Mixed doubles title for South-east Asia'. Print Edition | Subscribe