[The Jakarta Globe]: The men’s badminton team emphasized its domination in the region by taking its third consecutive gold medal in the Southeast Asian Games.
In front of a full house at Istora Gelora Bung Karno in Jakarta, Indonesia defeated archrival Malaysia 3-1 in the men’s team final on Tuesday.
Despite playing against a young Malaysian team — the country decided against sending its top players such as world no. 1 Lee Chong Wei and men’s doubles stars Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong — the host was forced to play all out to win the gold.
Simon Santoso had a rather shaky start and made several mistakes before beating world No. 47 Daren Liew 22-20, 21-12 in the first singles match.
Around 4,000 spectators in the stadium, who lent their raucous support to the home shuttlers, were silenced after Malaysia took the next match to level the score 1-1.
Bona Septano and Mohamad Ahsan were stunned by world No. 27 Lim Khim Wah and Goh Wei Shem as the world’s sixth-ranked duo lost in a three-game thriller 21-18, 15-21, 25-23.
However, Tommy Sugiarto then showed he really did deserve his late call-up.
Tommy, who has won four international titles after withdrawing from the national training camp last year, didn’t give Mohamad Arif a chance and put Indonesia ahead again with a 21-13, 21-17 victory.
The 2008 Beijing Olympic men’s doubles champions Markis Kido and Hendra Setiawan secured the gold with their 21-10, 21-14 routing of Mak Hee Chun and Ong Soon Hock.
“It was a tough match, but I was determined to win from the start. I was behind in the first game, but all the fans’ support gave me more power to fight back and win the match,” Simon said. “Now I want to defend my gold in the men’s singles event that I got in Laos two years ago.”
The badminton gold was one of 11 that Indonesian athletes managed to snatch on Tuesday. Indonesia leads the medal tally with 71 golds, 58 silvers and 56 bronzes. Thailand is in second place with 46-35-54.
The Games, held in Jakarta and Palembang, will continue until Nov. 22.