Cheah Liek Hou won the first Para badminton gold medal at the Paralympics with a clinical performance in the men’s singles SU5 final against Indonesia’s Dheva Anrimusthi.
Having outplayed his rival 21-17 21-15 Cheah fell to the floor in a flood of emotions. He then made special mention of retired compatriot Lee Chong Wei, whose advice, he said, helped him handle the pressure.
Lee, three-time Olympic silver medallist, had advised him to “release whatever he could”.
“I feel great! And I have released all my stress and nerves and tension. I released everything just now. I really tried my best. I think I was very focused during the match. I deserved to win it,” said the Malaysian.
“I had messaged Lee Chong Wei on how to overcome the nerves and the pressure on court. He shared a lot of advice. I want to thank him and this gold medal is for all the Malaysian badminton lovers. Lee told me that there would be a lot of pressure on me, because they are all depending on me. They want me to get a good result. He told me to enjoy myself and release whatever I can in the Paralympic Village.”
In his Instagram post, Malaysian legend Lee said he was in tears after the final point.
Cheah’s vanquished opponent admitted that Cheah had been the superior player on the day.
“I did my best, that’s all I can do. I have trained so hard and I gave the best of me and this has happened and now I have the silver medal. It was important to win a Paralympic medal.”
“I already know Cheah is a very good player and he was more prepared than me.”
Earlier, the first Para badminton medal of the Paralympics – the bronze in men’s singles SU5 – was won by Indonesia’s Suryo Nugroho, who beat Chinese Taipei’s Fang Jen Yu 21-16 21-9.
“I didn’t come here just to participate, I came here to win something. That was my goal – to win a medal and I’m very happy with my bronze medal,” said Nugroho.
“I want to dedicate this win and this medal to my father who was sick when I was leaving Indonesia. He’s better now.”
Yang Qiu Xia Triumphs
China’s Yang Qiu Xia dashed Japan’s hopes in women’s singles SU5, overpowering Ayako Suzuki after trailing in the early session of play, 21-17 21-9.
Akiko Sugino won bronze in an all-Japanese clash with Kaede Kamayama.
“In the beginning I didn’t feel much stress but in today’s final match I felt very nervous,” said Yang. “I feel very happy to get the gold medal. I never thought I’d get the gold. I only focused on the process and not the gold medal.”
Satomi Wins Gold For Japan
Japan’s first gold medal came in women’s singles WH1 through Sarina Satomi, who overcame the loss of the first game against Thailand’s Sujirat Pookkham.
“It was my goal to win this gold medal, and I was very happy to get it. But one of the things I wanted to focus on the most was to make the people of Japan feel that Para badminton is a fun, interesting sport, and I think I did that,” said Satomi.
“After the match, I had a lot of mixed feelings, I really didn’t put it in my head that I’d won. It wasn’t until the victory ceremony that I got the medal and realised that I had won the whole match.
“After losing the first game, I talked to my coach and my coach said that the person who has the feeling of wanting to win more will win. Inside my heart I started to think that I wanted to win more than my opponent and that’s why I screamed more and used my voice more to make myself more excited.”