RIO DE JANEIRO • Malaysians could only groan in disappointment last week, as on two successive days their badminton doubles pairs failed to deliver the country's much-awaited first Olympic gold.
On Thursday, Goh Liu Ying and Chan Peng Soon lost the mixed doubles final to Indonesia's Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir 14-21, 12-21. And, on Friday, Goh V Shem and Tan Wee Kiong blew two match points to hand the men's doubles title to China's Fu Haifeng and Zhang Nan.
Both Malaysian men froze when on the brink of glory by netting their serves to hand the initiative back to the Chinese, who could hardly believe their luck and closed out the decider 16-21, 21-11, 23-21 to take the gold.
V Shem and Tan admitted they had wilted when the heat was strongest.
The 12th-ranked pair fought back gamely from 6-10 down in the decider, pulling ahead with some fierce volleying and grabbing match points at 20-19 and 21-20.
But, with a hush falling over the Riocentro arena, Tan's serve fell short on the first match point and his partner's serve failed to clear the net on the second.
As the shuttlecock fell harmlessly, the crowd gasped and the hundreds of Malaysian fans, who had made a big din during the course of the match, slapped their foreheads and groaned.
The Chinese won the next two points, breaking Malaysian hearts.
"I think we were rushed to get the point. We wanted to win it and it never worked," said 27-year-old Tan. "So we made a mistake.
"It's quite disappointing. Whoever enters the final, they want to win it, the first gold for the country. Unfortunately we could not end with a good result."
Liu Ying also admitted that she and Chan were disappointed as they "were not able to put up a good fight". But she was thrilled that she was able to fulfil "a distant dream" - as two knee operations in 2014 had forced her out of action for nearly a year.
"I shed tears watching the Jalur Gemilang (national flag) being raised in the hall. It's the moment that I've dreamt of and never thought it could be real," she wrote on Facebook.
"When we found ourselves in the semi-finals, facing one of China's top pairs, I thought that we might have a chance at the bronze medal. But we won that tough semi-final and I felt like it was a dream.
"I have dreamt many times about how great a feeling it would be to stand on the podium. I am a Rio Olympics badminton silver medallist now. I will be proud of this for the rest of my life."
REUTERS, THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK