Kisona, Lee make 1st singles sweep in 46 years

The last time Malaysia swept both titles at the regional games was in 1973


MANILA • S Kisona (picture) and Lee Zii Jia won the women’s and men’s singles titles respectively at the 30th SEA Games yesterday, reviving memories of Malaysia’s dominance of the singles in badminton 46 years ago.

The last time Malaysia swept both titles at the regional games was in 1973, when both of them were not born yet. Then, Datuk Punch Gunalan and Sylvia Ng triumphed in the men’s and women’s events respectively in Singapore.

In yesterday’s action, the unseeded Kisona showed the fighter in her when she came back from one game down to beat Indonesia’s Ruselli Hartawan in the final at the Muntinlupa Sports Complex.

After dropping the first set at 20-22, Kisona, ranked 104th in the world, tightened her play to win the next two games 21-14, 21-13.

Ruselli, who is ranked 37th in the world, simply had no answer to Kisona’s determined and steady play.

“I want to thank the management and coaches for placing their trust in me to play in the singles.

“They did not set a target for me and just wanted me to give it my best shot. I have proven myself,” said Kisona, 21, who got to play in the individual event because top singles player Goh Jin Wei could not make it to the games.

Top national men’s singles player Lee continued with Malaysia’s fine display when he beat Singapore’s Loh Kean Yew in the men’s final.

Lee, who is world No 14, dictated play from the start to take the first game 21-18.

In the second game, he capitalised on his opponent’s mistakes to romp home a 21-18 winner.