Mon, 17 Sep 2001

Sujitra upsets Lidya for women's singles gold

KUALA LUMPUR (JP): Indonesian badminton team missed the target of winning five gold medals at the 21st Southeast Asian Games after Lidya Djaelawidjaya suffered a shock defeat in the women's singles final on Saturday.

Thailand's Sujitra Ekmongkolpaisarn pulled off the upset win over top seeded Lidya, who succumbed 11-8, 11-7 in the see-saw match at Malawati Stadium in Shah Alam, Selangor.

Lidya beat the Thai girl in the women's team final on Tuesday 11-7, 11-2.

"I want to show the people of Thailand that I finally made it. I have been waiting for this moment for a long time," Sujitra told reporters.

Against 23-year-old Sujitra, Lidya kept the tempo up in the early stages to go four points clear. But the Thai began to mix up lobs, flicks and soft drop shots to unbalance the Indonesian, drawing even to 5-5 and again to 7-7 before finishing the set.

The second game was a carbon copy, with Sujitra going down 1-4 before clawing her way back from 6-7 in gritty net warfare, winning five straight points and the gold.

Indonesia secured two gold medals through all-Indonesian finals in the men's doubles and mixed doubles and added one in the women's doubles.

But it took Indonesian women's doubles team of Deyana Lomban and Vita Marissa over an hour of tight competition to douse the fire of home favorites Lim Pek Siah and Ang Li Peng, whom they beat 15-5, 4-15, 15-9.

Earlier, Vita and Nova Widhianto claimed the mixed doubles gold medal, defeating their seniors Bambang Supriyanto and Emma Ermawati.

Bambang and Emma took the first set easily with 15-3, but Vita and Nova took the second with 15-7 to force a decisive third set they finally won with 17-15.

Indonesia's world number two Candra Wijaya and Sigit Budiarto outlasted compatriots Tony Gunawan and Bambang Supriyanto in easy straight sets 15-4, 15-6.

The men's singles crown went to home favorite Roslin Hashim, who overcame a shaky start to tame Thailand's Boonsak Ponsana 17- 14, 15-3.

Boonsak, 19, who upset another Malaysian, Eng Ewe Hock, in the first round, started strongly against Roslin and was ahead 8-2 in the first game when the Malaysian's experience began to shine through.

Roslin was also in the winning team that beat the Indonesian men's team earlier this week ending Malaysia's 10-year drought of team gold medals and 28-year drought of individual titles.

Indonesian team manager Christian Hadinata told reporters that the final results augured that three leading badminton countries would stand equal chances of winning gold medals in the next SEA Games.

"Indonesia has to be very careful of shuttlers not only from Malaysia, but from Thailand too. They have reached a similar level to ours. Boonsak Polsana and Sujitra Ekmongkolpaisarn of Thailand and Malaysian men's doubles team can be very dangerous," he said after the match.

"The competition was quite tight here. On the other hand, we could not field our strongest squad due a ruling that limits the number of entrants."

Asked whether the Badminton Association of Indonesia (PBSI) would send its young shuttlers to the Asian Games in Pusan, South Korea, next year, Christian said it would be taken into consideration. (nvn)