Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik delivered for Malaysia the country’s biggest achievement in an individual event, expertly countering the wiles of a pair with an unbeaten record at the BWF World Championships.
And when a drop shot finally landed with Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan stranded mid-court, Chia and Soh sank to the ground, disbelieving at the enormity of their accomplishment. Neither in the 45 years of the World Championships, nor in eight editions of the Olympics, has a Malaysian player or pair topped the podium.
Chia and Soh, in their first Major Championships final, were up against a pair bidding for their fourth world title. The first game was going the way of the more experienced pair; Setiawan was on fire at the front with his quicksilver interceptions, Ahsan was killing the higher shuttles, and the Indonesians nearly had the game in the bag at 18-12.
The switch happened with Chia and Soh avoiding the quick exchanges and opening up the game, keeping the shuttle deep and challenging the Indonesians to hit through their defence. With the game getting physical and unable to penetrate the Malaysians’ defence, the Daddies’ game slowly unravelled; Chia and Soh grabbed nine of the next 10 points to steal the game, and then it was all one-way traffic in the second as the Malaysians stuck to their plan.
“I have no words to describe what we’re feeling,” said Chia. “Of course we are so happy to make ourselves proud, to make our country proud, as the first Malaysian world champions.
“Last year we won the bronze at the Olympics in Tokyo. This year we got the gold medal in Tokyo. So I think Tokyo is lucky for us!
“The big difference is our focus on court and mindset. We never cared about the points, whether we were leading or trailing. We know they are good on the first three shots, so we tried to change our gameplan, tried to be more patient and use our own strengths.”
“We have partnered each other for four years and we have often lost in the finals and semifinals, but now we’ve finally got the title,” said Soh.
“I have done a lot of work on my backcourt play. I’m a frontcourt player, but I wanted to be an allround player too. This is the strategy we’ve been working on.”
— BWF (@bwfmedia) August 28, 2022