IT was a slew of familiar faces at the Badminton game at this year’s ASEAN Games Australia. With countries like Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia all walking away with medals on the day, Faridah Wu brings you up to speed with all the action.
The first time I met Daniel Wu, he was casually strolling towards me munching a pizza slice.
But no, we weren’t in a restaurant. He had just left the court, emerging as the champion of the Men’s Singles in Badminton against fellow Malaysian Lee Hup Gui.
It wasn’t over for Daniel yet though; he went on waiting with partner Varaporn Techavinyoonot for their next match: the Mixed Doubles finals against Toan Nguyen and Huong Vang. Daniel would then go on to win that match, reclaiming the title he lost last year.
His partner Varaporn had also done well in her previous matches by winning first Runner-Up in the Women’s Doubles with partner Christina Siew Mien Chai.
The duo who represented Thailand lost the title to Malaysians Jovie Sheen and Phui Joan Lai, who finished strong in the 21 – 15, 21 – 11 finals.
Malaysians Be Khim Tan and Jennifer Kang rounded out the top 3.
The Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre (MSAC) saw six groups competing in the Women’s Doubles and five players in the Women’s Singles on Sunday September 14.
In the Women’s Singles, Vietnamese Huong Vang triumphed over the other four players, including first Runner-Up Claudia Candra from Indonesia and second Runner-Up Eknaree Wachirabunjong from Thailand.
The finals of Men’s Singles, Men’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles were also held on the same day and place. The preliminary rounds were all held the day before, with up to 24 players signing up for the Men’s Singles, 23 groups for the Men’s Doubles and 15 groups for the Mixed Doubles.
ASEAN Games Badminton director Victor Lee reported initial issues with player allocations for these competitions. Fortunately, he had overbooked the court in advance to ensure smooth facilitation.
Nevertheless, he was satisfied with the participation rate this year. He hoped that more players would sign up next year and for the event to take place in a better venue for them to further enjoy the experience.
The Men’s Doubles saw Malaysia making a clean sweep of the three contested categories. Lee Hup Gui and Kayden Ling took home the gold, finishing ahead of Jared Chung and Eugene Lu, with Gabriel Hii and Guo Liang Toi completing the podium. Jared also won second Runner-Up in the Men’s Singles, although he was unable to knock reigning champion Daniel off the top spot.
It was no surprise though; Daniel has had extensive experience in representing his home state in Malaysian tournaments, as well as Australia in the Australian Open 2012. The love for badminton is a family affair – he plays a match with his father whenever he returns home.
When we sat with him after the finals, we found out that he planned to join more international tournaments next year. But when he’s not playing badminton, he is earning his wings as a trainee pilot at the Moorabbin Airport. No matter what he does, we just hope that he will return for another dynamic ASEAN Games in 2015.