Malaysia’s Cheah Liek Hou clinches Para badminton’s 1st Paralympic gold
'I feel really great. I released all of my stress and tension, I released everything just now. I tried my best. I was really focused on the match and I deserved the win today'04 Sep 2021
Gold medallist Liek Hou Cheah of Malaysia poses on the podium after his badminton men's singles - SU5 finals at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
ⒸKiyoshi Ota/Getty Images
The first Paralympic champions in Para Badminton were crowned at the Yoyogi National Stadium with Malaysia's Cheah Liek Hou clinching the first gold of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games on Saturday, 4 September.
Liek Hou, who had a sensational run coming into the Games with two titles, kept his promise and defeated his Indonesian arch rival Dheva Anrimusthi 21-17, 21-15 for Malaysia's first Para Badminton medal. Indonesian Suryo Nugroho claimed the bronze.
For Liek Hou, it was in fact a sweet revenge having fell to Anrimusthi at the Basel 2019 World Championships:
“I feel really great. I released all of my stress and tension, I released everything just now. I tried my best. I was really focused on the match and I deserved the win today."
“Definitely there was pressure on us because everyone was looking up to and hoped I could get a good result in these Paralympic Games. This gold medal is for all Malaysian badminton lovers,” said the 33-year-old from Kuala Lumpur.
The six-time World Champion, who even exchanged messages with former Malaysian badminton legend Lee Chong Wei ahead of his final, also acknowledged that his recent training with coach Rashed Sidek, the former coach of Chong Wei, was paying him rich dividends.
“He (Chong Wei) told me to try to enjoy myself and release whatever I want in the (Paralympic) village or during the whole competition. I really need to thank him a lot.”
In the women’s singles SU5 final, China’s Qiuxia Yang shocked the top seed from Japan Ayako Suzuki with a comfortable 21-17, 21-9 win.
INDIA'S PRAMOD BHAGAT CLINCHES GOLD
Meanwhile, World and Asian Para Games champion Pramod Bhagat showed why he is the best in the world, clinching India’s first gold medal in Para Badminton, in men’s singles standing SL3 finals.
Bhagat, the top seed, displayed nerves of steel, rallying back from eight points down to defeat Great Britain’s Daniel Bethell 21-14, 21-17 in 45 minutes. Compatriot Manoj Sarkar claimed the bronze with a 22-20, 21-13 win over Japan’s Daisuke Fujihara.
“It was a dream come true moment. I had always dreamt of hearing the national anthem at the Paralympic Games. And I am proud of myself that I could live the moment. I have been the world champion, Asian Para Games champion, and a Paralympic gold was missing. Now I have it, this is surely a special one,” said an elated Bhagat who trailed 4-12 during second game before making an incredible comeback to level at 15-all and taking the lead.
SARINA SAROMI BAGS GOLD FOR HOSTS JAPAN
In women’s wheelchair WH1 final, Japan's reigning world champion Sarina Satomi came back from a game down to defeat second seed Pookkham Sujirat of Thailand 14-21, 21-19, 21-13 in a match that lasted almost an hour.
"It was my goal to win this gold medal, and I was very happy to get it. But one of the things I wanted to focus on the most was to make the people of Japan feel that Para Badminton is a fun, interesting sport, and I think I did that,” said an emotional Sarina.
CHINA CLAIM TOP HONOURS
China picked up more medals from Para Badminton when they claimed the 1-2 position in women's singles WH2 singles with their prodigy and top seed Liu Yutong pulling off a 21-15, 21-15 win over compatriot Xu Tingting.
In the men's WH1 gold medal match, it was China’s Qu Zimo who emerged victorious after Korean Lee Sam Seop retired trailing 6-11 in the second game and a game down. Zimo, who idolizes Chinese legend Lin Dan, won it 21-6, 11-6.
“This is beyond belief, I’m so emotional. I hope I’ll be able to do well tomorrow too and get another medal, and get to the top of the podium again and hear the national anthem again,” said the 19-yar-old Zimo, who will play his men’s doubles WH final pairing with Mai Jianpeng on Sunday.
INDONESIA'S OKTILA, KHALIMATIS TRIUMPH
In doubles, Indonesia's Leani Ratri Oktila and Khalimatus Sadiyah defeated the world champion Chinese pair of Cheng Hefang and Ma Huihui 21-18, 21-12 in just 32 minutes.
Oktila, who will play her women's singles SL4 finals and mixed doubles SL3-SU5 finals (with Hary Susanto) on Sunday, said she wanted to win the match to gift Khalimatus an advance birthday gift:
“We reached our maximum potential today. We made the minimum number of errors. I’m very happy about our performance. It’s Khalimatus' birthday (on 17 September) so I wanted to do my best for both of us.”