TOKYO: As others around them continued to flounder, he was left at the wheel of the national men’s singles Lee Zii Jia, sailor Nur Shazrin Mohamad Latif and swimmer Phee Jinq En to save the day for Malaysia on the third day of the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
Zii Jia’s overwhelming performance on her Olympic debut was like a breath of fresh air in the badminton camp after the women’s doubles and mixed doubles pairs lost their second straight loss in their respective groups.
Zii Jia, 23, was nothing short of sublime as he dismissed Ukrainian Artem Pochtarov 21-5, 21-11 in just 25 minutes in their Group M opener at the Musashino Forest Sport Plaza here.
However, the reigning All England champion can expect a tougher time on Wednesday July 28 when he takes on Frenchman Brice Leverdez.
Meanwhile, the hopes of medal-winning Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying mixed doubles at the Tokyo Games were dashed after they fell back to Group D yesterday.
The duo, who won silver at the Rio 2016 Games, went to court knowing they had to beat Germans Mark Lamfuss-Isabel Herttrich, but nothing seemed to work for the Malaysians as they bowed 12-21, 15-21.
Peng Soon-Liu Ying will end his Group D campaign against world number two Wang Yilyu-Huang Dongping of China on Monday, July 26.
It was also the end of the road for the national women’s doubles duo Chow Mei Kuan-Lee Meng Yean after succumbing to their second straight Group A loss today.
Mei Kuan-Meng Yean, who fought 21-17, 15-21, 8-21 against world number one Sayaka Hirota-Yuki Fukushima of Japan, will face Britain’s Chloe Birch-Lauren Smith in their final group match.
Sailor Nur Shazrin, meanwhile, performed very well in the first two races of the Women’s Laser Radial event at the Enoshima Yacht Harbor in Fujisawa, near here.
After two races, the 2018 Asian Games bronze medalist finds herself in 11th place out of 44 sailors with eight more races to go, including two on Monday (July 26).
In the men’s Laser Standard event, Khairulnizam Mohd Afendy is 26th out of 35 sailors after the first race. There are still nine races to go after today’s second race had to be postponed to Monday (July 26) due to windy conditions.
It was a bittersweet moment for national swimmers Jinq En and Welson Sim(Photo) Wee Sheng at the Tokyo Aquatic Center.
Jinq En can pat himself on the back after finishing second in the second round of the women’s 100-meter breaststroke in 1: 08.40 seconds (s), which is also a new national record – eclipsing her own previous mark of 1. : 08.50s she managed on her way to winning gold at the 2019 SEA Games in Manila, Philippines.
Unfortunately, her time was still not fast enough for her to be ranked among the top 16 swimmers to advance to the semi-finals, which will take place on Monday (July 26).
Jinq, 23, finished 29th out of 43 competitors overall.
Welson, meanwhile, managed to set his best record of the season in the qualifying round of the men’s 200m freestyle despite his early exit from the Tokyo Olympics.
He clocked a time of 1: 49.24 seconds to finish seventh in today’s second heat, won by Romanian David Popovici (1: 45.32 seconds). Serbian Velimir Stjepanovic (1: 46.26s) was second and German Jacob Heidtmann (1: 46.73s) third.
The 24-year-old Sarawakian finished 32nd out of 39 swimmers overall.
National artistic gymnastics queen Farah Ann Abdul Hadi also failed to shine in the women’s individual qualifying round when she finished the day in 68th place out of 85 participants at the Ariake Gymnastics Center here.
The 27-year-old from Selangor was only able to score a total of 48,565 points after completing the four mandatory routines – uneven bars (11,600 pts), beam (11,566 pts), floor exercise (12,233 pts) ) and jump (13,166 pts).
Meanwhile, besides the two sailors, other Malaysians who will be in action on Monday (July 26) are male voice actors Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik, who will face world number two Mohammad Ahsan-Hendra Setiawan of Indonesia. –Bernama