Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Day Malaysians Became Japanese, Indonesians and China Chinese.

I went to watch the World Badminton Championship semifinals yesterday, and to say that it was disappointing due to the lack of Malaysian participation (with exception to the men's doubles) wouldn't be fair as the Chinese, Indonesian, South Korean and even the Japanese players served up some very good badminton.

The atmosphere became really electric during the men's doubles match between Malaysia's Choong Tan Fook-Lee Wan Wah and Indonesia's Markis Kido-Hendra Setiawan, not surprising since they (Tan Fook/Wan Wah) were the only Malaysians to reach the semis.

Badminton matches are unlike squash or even tennis matches. Here the crowd was raucous and seldom pause to allow players to serve in peace whereas I've seen a squash player or two hold up play in order to get the crowd to shut up. If you were to ask me, I would say I prefer badminton matches :P.

Anyways, I've seen Markis Kido play before (on TV) and the way he smashes the shuttlecock... "giler babi" would be the proper term for it.

One of the Chinese female players, Gao Ling featured in both the mixed doubles and women's doubles matches. She had a pretty tough time in the semis as we watched her and her respective partners being stretched to rubber games before winning.

The Japanese men's and women's doubles players proved to be a study in contrast. The women's doubles pair, Kumiko Ogura and Reiko Shiota preferred to play long rallies and really persevered against China's Gao Ling and Huang Sui. Even though they lost, they managed to drag the match on till the rubber set and had the crowd backing them in earnest!

On the other hand, the Japanese men's doubles pair of Shuchi Sakamoto and Shintaro Keida were really more flash than anything else with their attacking game (although it was interesting to watch them revert to their occasional "blur" mode), and is this the pair that beat our pair of Koo Kien Kiat and Tan Boon Heong in the semis?

Don't tell this to anyone... but I find that hard to believe, but of course I missed watching that quarterfinals match due to work commitments.

The Bao Chunlai - Lin Dan match wasn't really interesting, since it was akin to the former rolling over and die. The match between Hong Kong's Wang Chen versus China's world number one, Zhang Ning in the women's singles match was a rout, as the world number one did a Bao Chunlai and lost rather shockingly. My friend commented that she might be injured or something.

The Sony Kuncoro vs Chen Yu match was overshadowed by the "feature" match on the next court but the chap from Indonesia gave a good account of himself.

The other women's single match wasn't of note, as it was a China vs China one (and I'm not the only one who finds China vs China matches boring..they tend to look like they are sparring), and quite a number of people took the opportunity for toilet breaks and to visit the merchandize and food stalls outside.

I bought a bunch of very noisy whistle like things that made sounds akin to blowing a horn. The muffins served by the Coffee Bean stall were very nice, and they had cute miniature racquet bags at the Yonex counter.

This was the first time in a long time I've attended a badminton tournament and a large one at that, the only other times were during my childhood, watching my mum play. The crowd was sporting enough to cheer on players from other countries even when our local heroes were no longer in competition. And the matches were of quality. Well worth the ticket price, although we were missing the fancy score display that you get to see on Astro. Hehe.