Malaysia’s dream of an Olympic gold has cast a tremendous expectation of an entire country upon mixed doubles shuttlers Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying.
Their bid to become the first gold medalists in Malaysian history was foiled this week, however, after Indonesian duo Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir overpowered them in the finals.
But even with a silver Olympic medal finish, Malaysians expressed their support and admiration for their star players.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Tun Razak also expressed his thanks to the athletes:
“You have done your best Chan Peng Soon and @gohliuying. Succeeding to reach the final and winning the silver medal is a good achievement! Congratulation! #Rio2016,” said Najib in a tweet.
Some newspaper headlines, however, conveyed disappointment over the silver win. Local paper Kosmo! had “Peng Soon-Liu Ying disappoint millions of Malaysians” on its cover and Berita Harian (BH), wrote a headline that said: “Mixed doubles only manage a silver”.
Dismayed fans went to the defense of the athletes, posting complaints on social media, calling the headlines hurtful and dismissive of the pair’s achievements.
For Liu Ying, winning a silver medal for her country meant a whole lot more. She shared a post on Facebook narrating her journey and struggles before reaching the Olympic finals. The full message, which was translated from Chinese to English by Malaysiakini can be read here:
“I was the first batch of Malaysia’s mixed doubles team. In the early days, Malaysia’s mixed doubles teams were put together impromptu, without real planning. At that time, Malaysia’s focus was only on the men’s singles and men’s doubles teams. Malaysians were also only interested in men badminton players. Two years ago, for the sake of performing in the Olympics, I underwent surgery to repair both of my damaged knees. In the beginning the goal was to perform in the group stage.
Then, when we got into the semi-finals, I thought that maybe we may have a chance at a bronze medal. When we won the semi-finals, I felt like I was in a dream. Did I really win? Is this not a dream? I have dreamt for many times how great a feeling it would be to be able to stand on the podium. In the finals, we faced the Indonesian team which was in a strong form, we did not perform up to expectations.
Many people hoped that we could go for Malaysia’s first gold Olympic medal but regrettably, we couldn’t put up a good match. Standing on the podium and seeing the moment our country’s flag was raised, I teared up. I could only dream of this moment, I never thought it could happen. We entered the Olympics in the eighth place, there were so many opponents that were better than us.
I am just Goh Liu Ying. I did not have such remarkable achievements like the Chinese team, I did not have the steady performance of the Korean team, I did not have the tactical strategy of the Europeans teams nor did I have the experience of the Indonesian team. I am just Goh Liu Ying. I was not born with the body of an athlete.
When others completed the training set by our coach, I could only complete half of the training. I couldn’t build up my muscles like the other athletes. Smaller muscles, there is less protection and my chances of injuries increase. As I have undergone surgery, I also could not overexert myself during training. The strength of both my legs is also lesser, compared to others. I am Goh Liu Ying. I am the Rio Olympics badminton mixed doubles silver medalist. This will make me proud for the rest of my life.”