Tokyo 2020: Aaron Chia & Soh Wooi Yik Bring It Home
It was a nail-biting experience watching Malaysia’s badminton pair Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik valiantly fight for a chance at a medal during the Tokyo 2020 men’s doubles bronze medal match. At that point, their teammates, including single’s shuttler Lee Zii Jia and mixed doubles duo Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying, had already been eliminated, which meant that Chia and Soh had the weight of Malaysia on their shoulders.
As they went up against three-time world champions Mohamad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan from Indonesia, it was clear that the pressure was on, but the pair remained laser-focused and kept their eyes on the prize–Malaysia’s first Tokyo 2020 medal.
Picking themselves up after losing in the semifinals to China's Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen wasn’t an easy feat, on top of having to meet the Indonesian team again after a defeat in the group stage. Not one to retire to a corner and lick their wounds, the determined duo, teammates at work and best friends outside of the court, quickly formatted a strategy to take down their opponent in what is now known as the most crucial match of their careers. Nothing was left up to chance.
Their positions have always been clear–Soh is the playmaker at the front court and Chia would attack from the back. Their communications in between sets were also solid, which made for a stunning game. While the pair seemed to have let the first set slip through the holes in their racquets, they quickly bounced back in the second, leading 21-17. Millions of Malaysians held their breath and watched when they entered the rubber set as hope seemed to hang on a thread. Full speed ahead and with imaginary rockets tied to their ankles, Chia and Soh charged at Ahsan and Setiawan.
Then, it happened. Chia and Soh claimed victory over Ahsan and Setiawan 21-14 in the deciding set, and Malaysians erupted into roars. The bronze from the world’s biggest multi-sports Games was coming home. Soh was visibly moved by the win, seen in tears as they cleared out from the court and prepared for the podium–and understandably so. The 23-year-old player comes from a family of badminton legends, father Soh Goon Chup and uncle Soo Beng Kiang, and is the first of his family to taste Olympic success.
In speaking about their bronze medal feat, Soh told The Star: “What he (Soo) could not achieve (as a player), I have achieved for our family. I am so proud of this achievement.” Meanwhile, Chia is gunning for more titles in the future. "We are very happy to have contributed one medal to the country and for ourselves as we move forward in our career. We will be more confident when competing in future tournaments,” The Star quoted him as saying.
Underdogs no more, thank you, boys, for bringing it home.