Asean Schools Games: Silver lining for Singapore boys' badminton team

Lee Wei Hong from Singapore in action during the badminton final of the boys team event in the 9th Asean Schools Games at Our Tampines Hub on July 17, 2017.
Lee Wei Hong from Singapore in action during the badminton final of the boys team event in the 9th Asean Schools Games at Our Tampines Hub on July 17, 2017.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - For Singaporean shuttlers Lee Wei Hong and Jason Teh, last year's Asean Schools Games (ASG) painful semi-final defeat to Malaysia in the badminton boys team event was a source of motivation in their preparations going into this year's tournament.

"After last year (result), we were determined to improve and learn from our mistakes. We wanted to change the colour of the medal so the team trained extremely hard for the Games," said Wei Hong.

Wei Hong and Jason's aspirations came true on Monday (July 17) at Our Tampines Hub when Singapore clinched their first team silver medal since the inception of the ASG in 2009. Prior to this year's event, the team only managed a bronze.

However, motivation alone was not enough to overcome their causeway rivals as Malaysia stormed through the final to record a decisive 3-0 victory.

The final proved to be a more straightforward affair than a mere repeat of the group-stage match where Malaysia edged out Singapore 3-2.

Malaysia started on the front foot after Chia Wei Jie beat Wei Hong to claim the first singles 21-13.

Wei Hong responded in the second set, winning 21-18 to force the match into the decider.

But Wei Jie stood firm and dashed any hopes of a Singaporean comeback, breezing through the last set 21-11 to give Malaysia the match and a 1-0 lead.

It was cruise control for the defending champions in the next two singles as they racked up straight-sets victories.

Lim Chong King extended the Malaysians' lead in the second match, defeating Jason 21-19, 21-15.

Ng Tze Yong then wrapped up proceedings in the deciding tie, brushing aside Darrion Ng to win 21-13, 21-16 and ensure that Malaysia retained their title.

Jason admitted that the defeat was a bitter pill to swallow.

"There's a little bit of disappointment of course. I beat the Malaysian opponent in the group stage but in the final he did better," he said.

"We wanted to win gold but it didn't happen... we got silver and that's not too bad."

Despite losing, head coach Lok Chee How commended his charges on their performance throughout the tournament.

"The boys went above themselves. They were determined and you could see the fire in their eyes. They even beat Indonesia 3-0 in the semis which has never been done before by any (Singaporean) team at any level. They really wanted this (to reach the final) because this is home ground and they did it. You've got to give them credit for that," said the 54-year-old, who has been involved in the coaching set-up of Singapore's ASG badminton team since its formation.

Wei Jie also praised his Singaporean counterpart, saying: "Today he played much better than the previous game. We didn't come here expecting to win 3-0 because we knew they would put up a good fight but I feel happy and proud that we did it."

In the girls' final, Malaysia recorded a 3-0 victory over Indonesia.

The result sees Malaysia complete a clean sweep of the badminton team events.