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Wei Feng, Muhammad Ariff End M’sia’s 14-Year Wait For Men’s Single Gold

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SINGAPORE – Malaysia’s 14-year gold medal drought in the SEA Games men’s singles badminton competition ended in style when Chong Wei Feng and Muhamad Ariff Ab Latif made it to the final to secure the gold and silver medals even before playing the final.

Wei Feng came from behind to beat Tanongsak Saemboonsuk from Thailand 13-21, 21-18, 21-15 in a three-set semifinal encounter at the Singapore Indoor Stadium while Muhammad Ariff beat Singapore’s Loh Kean Yew 22-20, 21-15 in straight sets.

“This is my first SEA Games final and I have to thank Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) Technical Director Morten Frost Hansen who came on court to give me some valuable tips and when Tanongsak had won the first game.

“I have played Tanongsak before but today the Thai player showed vast improvement in his game,” said Wei Feng.

Muhammad Ariff who lost in the deciding game when Malaysia were beaten 3-2 by Indonesia in the team event, faced tough resistance from Kean Yew in the first game, especially with strong support from the home fans, but had an easier second game to emerge victorious.

“I am delighted to have made it to the final. It will be a 50-50 match and I will have an equal chance of winning the gold medal since I have beaten Wei Feng before and also lost to him before.

“…what is important is to play for the country. Frost’s guidance was very crucial in the match, especially when the Singaporean was leading in the first game,” said Muhammad Arif.

The last time Malaysia won a gold medal in the men’s singles was through Roslin Hashim at the 2001 SEA Games hosted by Malaysia.

Meanwhile, 15-year-old Goh Jin Wei’s attempt to make it to the women’s singles final evaporated after losing to Hanna Ramadini from Indonesia 21-16, 12-21, 18-21, in three sets.

However, credit must go to the 15-year-old who managed to make it to the semifinals despite making her debut in the games. – BERNAMA

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