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COMMONWEALTH GAMES: SECOND-STRINGER WONG TURNS GOLDEN
September 19, 1998 (NEW SHUTTLENWS) - Wong Choon Hann, a second choice for
the Malaysian national team to the 1998 Commonwealth Games, put in a sterling
performance today in the men's singles finals and captured a gold medal when
he beat teammate Yong Hock Kin 10-15, 15-12 and 15-6. Wong was only named to
the Malaysian team when an internal dispute between the national badminton
association and Nusa Mahsuri, a professional badminton club, led to the
removal of number three singles player Roslin Hashim from the team.
Wong's road to the gold medal was also eased by the injury to top seed Ong
Ewe Hock during the team competition.
The gold medal though was not handed to Wong on a silver platter. He won it
with a fine 10-15, 15-12 and 15-6 comeback effort against the second-seeded
Yong Hock Kin in today's championship match.
The two finalists played well early in the first game but Wong managed to
pull ahead 9-5 with accurate crosscourt smashes. Yong came back strongly to
equalize at 10-all and then scored five straight times to take the opener
In the second frame, after playing evenly at the start, Wong's shot placements
forced Yong into several errors and he went ahead at 8-7. Wong padded his
advantage to 12-8 but Yong increased the tempo and scored four winners to
knot the score at 12-12. Wong then took control of the net from the lefthanded
Yong and scored twice to gain game point.
With the score at 14-12, Wong once more got to the net and spun a very
tight net shot. Yong could only reply with a short lift and the substitute
pounded the shuttle with a game-winning smash.
In the decider, Yong took a small lead early at 3-2 but Wong quickly took
over with deceptive shotmaking and tight netplay. Wong used his tightly spun
net shots to set up smashable short lifts from Yong and quickly raced to a
12-5 advantage. The tiring Yong could only muster one more point after that,
while the now-confident Wong controlled the rest of the rallies to win at
In the men's doubles championship match, another all-Malaysian affair, the
third-seeded duo of Choong Tan Fook and Lee Wan Wah upset their second-seeded
teammated Cheah Soon Kit and Yap Kim Hock 15-7 and 15-4.
The veterans Cheah and Yap played well early, taking 4-2 and 6-4 leads. The
pair though started to make many mistakes, allowing Choong and Lee to take
control of the game and win at 15-7.
Cheah and Yap continued to be error-prone in the second game. Choong and Lee
took the lead early and won with ease 15-4.
After the match, Cheah said that they were tired from their three-game
semifinal yesterday and that they were not tourmanent-sharp because of a long
injury layoff to Yap.
This was the last tournament for Yap who is retiring to either coach in his
home state of Johore or to go into business. Yap has been bothered by an
injury to his racket (left) shoulder for a long time and his shoulder could
no longer take the strain of daily training and the powerful smash action that
is needed in high-level international competition.
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