Chong stuns Thai champ to reach all-Malaysian singles final
He upsets Thailand's defending champion to reach men's singles final; teammates also make hay in semis
He was up against the SEA Games defending champion in the semi-finals of the men's badminton singles and it looked as if Thailand's Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk was set for a stroll when he comprehensively outplayed Malaysia's Chong Wei Feng 21-13 in the first set.
Many believed Chong Wei Feng's hopes were dead and buried at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
But, against the odds, the Malaysian mustered a stunning effort to claw his way back and claim a 13-21, 21-18, 21-15 win over the top seed to book his place in today's final.
Chong later revealed the key to victory was that he never once let his opponent's stature get to his head.
"I never thought about him (Tanongsak) being the top seed and defending champion, and having to beat him," he told The New Paper.
"I just head into every game wanting to win regardless of the opponent and I'm very happy to be in the final.
"I didn't put up much of a fight in the first set, but I have to thank my coach. He told me to just stay in the contest and to slowly close the gap.
"I've had some struggles with injuries, but now I just want to keep on improving... My defence is still quite poor and that's something I'm looking to work on.
"Of course, now that I'm in the final, I want nothing less than the gold medal."
The 28-year-old will meet Arif Abdul Latif in an all-Malaysian final. Arif defeated 17-year-old Singaporean Loh Kean Yew 22-20, 21-15 in the other semi-final.
There was no such joy for Malaysia's Goh Jin Wei in the women's singles, as her fairytale run came to an end after a 16-21, 21-12, 21-18 loss to Indonesia's Hanna Ramadini in yesterday's semi-finals.
In tears after the match, the precocious Goh initially declined to be interviewed, but eventually the 15-year-old summoned up the courage to face the waiting media.
"(This defeat) is really tough for me at the moment," she said.
"She (Ramadini) gave me a tough challenge, but I kept fighting and kept believing.
"In the end, it wasn't to be but, overall, I'm quite satisfied with my performance as I didn't expect to reach as far as the semis.
"Now, my target will be to reach the final in Kuala Lumpur (at the 2017 SEA Games)."
Goh's defeat was the only blemish on what proved to be a dominant day for the Malaysians.
Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying got the ball rolling by defeating Riky Widianto and Richi Puspita Dili to advance to the mixed doubles final, where they will meet another Indonesian pair in Praveen Jordan and Debby Susanto.
There will be another an all-Malaysian final in the women's doubles, with Vivian Hoo and Woon Khe Wei facing off against Amelia Anscelly and Soong Fie Cho for the gold.
Hoo and Woon, gold medallists in the event at the 2013 Games, were barely troubled in a 21-12, 21-11 win over Anggia Shitta Awanda and Ni Ketut Mahadewi of Indonesia, while Anscelly and Soong defeated Maretha Dea Giovani and Suci Rizki Andini 21-16, 23-21 also of Indonesia.