Tokyo Olympics 2020: Aaron Chia & Soh Wooi Yik In The Spotlight
Malaysians rejoiced and celebrated as the country’s top badminton men’s doubles duo Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik served the final blow to Indonesian pair and current world number one Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo in the Tokyo 2020 men’s doubles quarterfinals. Despite being deemed as the underdogs, the stunning 33-minute victory has thrown the doors wide open for the Malaysian team to march into the semifinals, bringing them one step closer to an Olympics gold.
The pair is as thrilled as Malaysians about their win, with 23-year-old Soh saying that he didn't think he had ever felt this happy. "I think the reason we were so fired up today and won this match was because we know that all the Malaysians were behind us. We just wanted to fight for them,” he told The Star.
Chia and Soh will be gearing up to face China's Li Junhu and Liu Yuchen, who are the current world number four. Ahead of the game, here’s what you need to know about Malaysia’s badminton hopefuls:
All in the family
Badminton has been in Soh's family his whole life. He's the son of former Malaysian badminton player Soh Goon Chup and his uncle is Soo Beng Kiang. The elder Soh played for the national team in the 1970s and 1980s, partnering with Ong Beng Teong in men's doubles, while Soo, an Olympian, partnered with Cheah Soon Kit to help Malaysia lift the coveted Thomas Cup in 1992.
The younger Soh revealed he grew up wanting to be better than his father and uncle. "I was keen to become a champion for my family," he said. Additionally, he revealed that his uncle follows his matches closely and would often offer advice and encouragement ahead of a big game.
Chia, on the other hand, was introduced to badminton when he was only seven years old–a hobby that he started with his father. While he didn't come from a family of legends, family is all he thinks about while taking on opponents at the Olympics. The father-of-two said that he just wants to make his daughters proud of him.
The Indonesian jinx
The pulsating Tokyo 2020 men's doubles quarterfinals match wasn't the first time they had come face-to-face with Indonesia's Gideon and Sukamuljo (also known as the mighty Minions) but it was their first-ever win over the powerful pair.
Chia and Soh first encountered Gideon and Sukamuljo in the 2018 Malaysia Open. This was followed by seven other meetings, including the 2020 All England during which Chia and Soh lost 17-21, 19-21. In preparing to encounter Gideon and Sukamuljo once more at the Tokyo 2020 men's doubles quarterfinals, Chia and Soh devised a specific game plan with their coach Flandy Limpele during training to overcome the Indonesian pair and, well, the rest is history.
For the win
To date, Malaysia has won 11 medals overall at the Olympics–seven silver and four bronze–but is still waiting for the elusive Olympic gold medal. While all hopes are on fellow badminton player Lee Zii Jia to win the country's first, Chia and Soh are gunning to score gold medals themselves too.
"We want to be the first, the first ones ever to get the gold medal," Chia told Olympics.com. Together, they have only ever cinched a gold medal once, at the 2019 Southeast Asian Games in Manila. Could Chia and Soh make it to the top step of the podium and bring gold and glory home from Tokyo 2020? As they say, there's always a first time for everything.