Para-badminton: World Champion Tay up to scratch

Para-shuttler's makeshift pairing with Indonesian yields doubles title thanks to chemistry, sticking to instructions

Their partnership was formed just two weeks before the Para-Badminton World Championships but Singapore's Tay Wei Ming and Indonesia's Suryo Nugroho still emerged with a coveted title on Sunday.

The scratch pair upset defending champions and top seeds Cheah Liek Hou and Hairol Fozi Saaba of Malaysia 18-21, 23-21, 21-18 to claim the men's doubles title in the SU5 category, which is for athletes with upper-limb impairment.

Cheah, who edged out Suryo for his sixth singles world title in the SU5, is a five-time winner of this event and claimed the title in 2015 with Hairol. There were 22 events in total at the tournament which ended last Sunday, including four in the men's doubles.

With his victory in Ulsan, South Korea, Tay became the first Singaporean para-shuttler to win a world crown, and joins para-athletes Yip Pin Xiu, Theresa Goh (both swimming) and Ismail Hussain (bowling), who have claimed titles on the global stage for Singapore.

"I was quite shocked about the victory and it took a while for it to sink in," said Tay, who returned to Singapore early on Tuesday morning. "It is the most significant victory in my career because the World Championships is the highest tier of competition on the badminton circuit."

Above: Singapore's Tay Wei Ming and his doubles partner Suryo Nugroho of Indonesia with their medals. The duo beat Malaysia's Cheah Liek Hou and Hairol Fozi Saaba to win the world men's doubles SU5 title in Ulsan, South Korea, last Sunday. PHOTO COURTESY OF ALAN SPINK 

Despite having known Suryo for about eight years, Tay said the unlikely alliance began only because the Indonesian's partner could not make it. "Suryo approached me on Facebook Messenger and I discussed it with my coach before we agreed," he added.

Above: Tay during the Asean Para Games in Kuala Lumpur in September, where he won a joint bronze in the SU5 singles. PHOTO: FOO TEE FOK/SPORT SINGAPORE

Tay, who clinched the bronze in the same event with Frenchman Colin Keranauton in 2015, said he and Suryo "enjoyed" the partnership as they did not feel pressure.

He said: "I was truly amazed; we didn't have any clashes.

"Both of us were very clear on what we had to do. He had hard smashes and was pretty fast at the back, while I was quick at the front, and created opportunities for him to attack the Malaysians."

Another key ingredient was their ability to play to their coaches' instructions in the final.

Tay's coach Simon Koh said: "The game plan was not to feed (the more experienced) Cheah too much, as he was very fast too, but to aim for the other player (Hairol) on the counter-attack.

"They (Tay and Suryo) also had good chemistry and understanding with one another, and complemented each other on court."

Singapore Disability Sports Council president Kevin Wong lauded Tay for his historic success.

"We are proud of him. His achievement is a testament to him being a full-time athlete, supported by the Singapore Sports Institute's Sports Excellence Scholarship," said Wong, who is also the Singapore National Paralympic Council chairman.


This win taught me that anything is possible; you just have to know what you want, and work hard for it.

TAY WEI MING, who partnered Indonesia's Suryo Nugroho to win the world SU5 doubles badminton title, on his feat.

"With the standard of para-sports increasing, it's important for our athletes to train full-time to be able to challenge for honours."

The future of this partnership is uncertain, though, as Tay said both shuttlers will still focus on their singles careers, and Suryo is likely to stick to an Indonesian partner to get ranking points towards the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.

Unlike the World Championships, mixed-country doubles partnerships are not allowed at the Paralympics.

But Tay said the victory will give him a boost in his own journey towards the 2020 Games.

He said: "Winning is a bonus. The most important thing from the win is the


With the standard of para-sports increasing, it's important for our athletes to train full-time to be able to challenge for honours.

KEVIN WONG, Singapore Disability Sports Council president, on the need to focus on the future.

experience leading up to the victory, the physical and mental preparation.

"But this win taught me that anything is possible; you just have to know what you want, and work hard for it."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 30, 2017, with the headline 'World Champion Tay up to scratch'. Print Edition | Subscribe