SINGAPORE - Singapore’s eight-year wait for a snooker gold medal finally came to a close yesterday, as the Republic’s cueists emerged victorious in the men’s doubles final yesterday evening at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.
Chan Keng Kwang and Tey Choon Kiat beat Thailand’s Phaitoon Phonbun and Issara Kachaiwong 3-1 to earn Singapore their first snooker gold since Ang Boon Chin and Lim Chun Kiat won in 2009 at Laos.
The duo’s path to victory was far from easy though. After a hard-fought 3-2 victory in the semi-finals over hosts and defending champions Malaysia, the pair conceded the first frame to the Thais, before coming back strong to claim the next three.
“The Malaysians and Thais were the favourites, so coming into the finals, we had nothing to lose, we coped well with the pressure,” said the 37-year-old Chan.
“Winning today definitely feels very good because my last gold medal came in a different event. I only switched to snooker three years ago. I think it was a good decision.”
Chan’s last SEA Games gold medal came in the 2005 Games in Manila, and though he had added a few silvers and bronzes since then, the coveted gold eluded him – until yesterday.
For Tey, the wait had been even longer. Yesterday’s medal ended a 22-year gold drought, with his last gold coming in 1995. Then, he had been part of the team that clinched the Republic’s first cuesports gold medal in the nine-ball team .
Tey said the experience he garnered over the years – including a loss in a final in 2007 was crucial.
“Before we played today, we kind of knew what was going to happen in the final, what the atmosphere and experience would be like, so we were able to relax and play our game,” he added.
“Passion” and “love” for the game has kept the 49-year-old going all these years, even after seeing most of his peers leave the sport due to family and other commitments.
“I’m getting older, but I’ll still continue playing until one day my body tells me I cannot continue, then perhaps I’ll go into coaching,” he said.
Before then, he and Chan will hope to add to the Republic’s two-gold target in cuesports with the singles event to come.