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Friday, December 14, 2007

Looking Back - Thomas Cup '92 (Part 2)

When I last left you, Malaysians all around the world were heartbroken by the lost of their All England Champions Razif and Jalani Sidek. Considered a 'safe point', for some reason, the world's best defensive pair lost tamely in the third set.

Foo Kok Keong then marched out into the court to face Olympic Champion Allan Budi Kusuma, the future husband of Indonesian ace Susi Susanti. Ranked number 10 in the world, Foo has never managed to beat Allan, who was ranked much higher than Foo. With the support of the screaming home crowd, he swept Allan away and clinched the first set easily 15-6. Inspired by Foo's determination and first set win, the crowd shouted, screamed, shreiked, and screeched for Foo while booing loudly at Allan. Even the usually confident Indonesian supporters at Stadium Negara were shocked and scared by the Malaysians. Foo, at 29 years of age, dived and ran and ran, refusing to give up the second set although trailing 11-6 at one point. Allan failed to close up, and Foo proceeded to clinch the game in 2 sets. Foo not only delivered the 'winning point' for Malaysia, he paved the way for the dive return; in the second set, he dived on average once every rally. At this point, no household of Malaysia was asleep, although it was about midnight. Even those who had no interest in badminton were woken up by their neighbours, and proceeded to drag themselves out from bed to watch the deciding game.

Cheah Soon Kit and Soo Beng Kiang, Malaysia's secret weapon, marched out onto court accompanied by the loud cheerings of the Malaysian fans. On the other end of the court was Rexy Manaiky and Ricky Subagja, future Olympic Champions. Cheah and Soo were an excellent pair, but they did not get along with each other. The Malaysians won the first set, while Rexy and Ricky managed to get the second set. The rubber game was neck to neck until the Malaysians managed to pull away. 2 points away from the Thomas Cup, all Malaysians everywhere were on their feet vilifying their fingernails. And then Rexy and Ricky got back the service. However, Cheah and Soo never allowed Rexy and Ricky to fight back, snatching back the service and getting a match point. Cheah Soon Kit held the serve that captivated the nation. 20 million Malaysians from all corner of the world were looking at that one shuttlecock held by Cheah. And boy did he serve it well. The shuttlecock wanted to skim the net, but decided against doing so in the last minute. Caught by suprise, Ricky proceeded to lift the shuttle. The lift was short, and Soo delivered the death blow right into Rexy's body. Checkmate.

The whole stadium erupted with frenzy as the whole Malaysian badminton team flooded the centre court. Cheah and Soo were hugged, and Mrs. Mahathir and the Yang Dipertuan Agong came personally to congratulate them. The celebration took place throughout the 5th match, between Kwan Yoke Meng and Joko Suprianto. Unsuprisingly, Kwan lost tamely, and once again, the Thomas Cup returned to the nation that first won it 90 years ago. That silver cup, after 25 years, finally returned to this Publish Postsmall nation near the equator. Finally, the Thomas Cup is Malaysia's.

Well, hopefully Malaysia can prevail once again next year when they set out to campaign for the Thomas Cup, the Cup that has eluded us for 16 years. Can we do it?

ps: This is out of topic, for those who are concerned about the ISA detentions of the HINDRAF leaders, there is a petition here

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