Pictured (left to right): Dheva Anrimusthi, Cheah Lieh Hou and Suryo Nugroho. Photo Credit: Parabadmintonphoto/BWF
Cheah Liek Hou of Malaysia has the distinction of being the first-ever Para badminton gold medallist at the Paralympic Games after a clinical performance in the men’s singles SU5 final against Indonesia’s Dheva Anrimusthi in Tokyo on Saturday.
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.”
Lee said in an Instagram post following Cheah’s win: “I was nervous watching this national hero in action. I shed tears when Cheah and (coach) Rashid embraced after the winning point.”
Anrimusthi 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.”
Japan’s Sarina Satomi became the first women’s Para badminton gold medallist in Paralymic Games history defeating Thailand’s Sujirat Pookkham. Sarina has also reigned victorious in Oceania, from the time she won the WH 2 women’s singles and WH1-2 women’s doubles event at the inaugural Australian Para Badminton International 2018.
“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.”