Sabah duo shock top-seeded Malaysian teammates in women’s doubles final
Sabah pair beat top-seeded Malaysian teammates for women's doubles gold
When her return shot bounced back off the net, Malaysian shuttler Woon Khe Wei tossed her racket into the air in frustration.
It was an all-Malaysian showdown in the women's doubles final at the Indoor Stadium yesterday, ensuring a one-two finish for their shuttlers.
But the 26-year-old was furious that her error led to her and partner Vivian Hoo losing the game.
Victors at the 2013 SEA Games in Myanmar, the pair, ranked 11th in the world, saw the defence of their gold medal fall apart in just 34 minutes, succumbing to their compatriots Amelia Anscelly and Soong Fie Cho in straight sets.
Anscelly and Soong were making their Games debut but certainly didn't look the part against their more accomplished teammates, edging what was an even first set.
The pair from Sabah then powered to a 7-0 lead in the second set and never looked back, taking the match with a convincing 21-18, 21-13 win to clinch the gold.
This was the second time this year Anscelly and Soong have beaten Malaysia's top seeds.
They had previously met at the final of the 2015 India Masters where Ancelley and Soong won also in straight sets.
"I feel very happy to beat the Malaysian No. 1 pair again," Anscelly told The New Paper after the victory ceremony. "We are not No. 2 any more."
"We are competitive," the 27-year-old said about her opponents yesterday.
"Sometimes they win, sometimes we win. It depends on our performance on the day. It depends on who can control their emotions and the momentum of the game.
"Of course they want to retain their title, so the pressure was on them. We just kept playing our simple game and it worked."
Anscelly had quit badminton for two years but returned to the national squad with her childhood friend Soong four years ago.
"My basics were gone," she said. "When I came in with Fie Cho, she was training (with the national team) for the first time. We were quite fresh."
The pair started playing in satellite tournaments and trained for two months before their SEA Games appearance.
"Our new coach Lim Pek Siah pushed us really hard," said Soong in Mandarin.
With a gold medal around their necks, Anscelly and Soong are now looking ahead to bigger things, with the World Championships in August and a chance at qualification for the Olympics in Rio looming.
Soong, 26, said: "We've never gotten into the top eight of a Super Series, so we want to try to that.
"We definitely want to qualify for the Olympics and give Vivian and Khe Wei a fight."