THOMAS CUP 2014 Final – Thomas Cup finds a new home

After 28 editions of the Thomas Cup championships, the trophy has found a new home. Japan crashed Malaysia’s hope of reclaiming the cup after 22 long years, as they bring […]

After 28 editions of the Thomas Cup championships, the trophy has found a new home. Japan crashed Malaysia’s hope of reclaiming the cup after 22 long years, as they bring home the trophy for the first time in history, beating Malaysia 3-2 in the six-hour-long final to become the fourth nation to have their names engraved on the Thomas Cup.

By Ooi Ee Lyn, Badzine Correspondent. Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

This could be Lee Chong Wei’s last time representing Malaysia in the Thomas Cup, and the Malaysian hero was eager to lead his team to a Thomas Cup victory while he is still part of the team. The world #1 started off high for Malaysia, leaving Kenichi Tago no space to bounce back, while he claimed Malaysia’s opening point in straight games.

Malaysia entrusted 2004 World Junior Champion pair Hoon Thien How / Tan Boon Heong to stop Hiroyuki Endo / Kenichi Hayakawa (pictured right) in the next match. Hoon/Tan started off fierce, taking the first game 21-12, with Malaysian supporters at the stadium on their feet and roaring in support. However, Japan’s world #3 pair did not give in easily. They stole the second game 21-17, and survived the nerve-racking decider, winning it 21-19 to level up the tie.

Japan’s faith started to grow with one point in hand, while 19-year-old went on court to challenge Chong Wei Feng. As the world #23 from Malaysia was caught in the trap set by the young Japanese, Malaysian supporters fell onto their seats in silence while the Japanese team sprang from the benches and cheered with every point won by their rising star. Momota swept the Malaysian off in straight games, as he completed his Thomas Cup mission remaining undefeated in New Delhi this week.

Malaysia’s scratch pair Goh V Shem/Tan Wee Kiong (pictured below), also undefeated in the three matches they played this week, stepped on court with the final score tilting 2-1 in Japan’s favour. They relit hope for the team, taking Keigo Sonoda / Takeshi Kamura 19-21, 21-17, 21-12 to push the tie to the deciding match where their captain Liew Daren would go all out to stop Takuma Ueda.

With the beam balancing on 2-2, the final match of the day was a battle of skills, physicality and mentality. Liew Daren and Takuma Ueda (pictured top) went against each other with the hopes of their teams on their shoulders. It was a nail-biting match that could have gone any way with both parties falling victim to errors while under pressure. After an hour and 18 minutes, the longest match of the day, Ueda took advantage of three championship points, and hammered the victory with 21-17 in the rubber game.

Japan wrapped up their very first Thomas Cup final beating Malaysia 3-2 to get their names engraved on the trophy for the first time. They are the fourth country in history to take home the Thomas Cup, following Indonesia, China and Malaysia.

Finally, Thomas Cup for Park Joo Bong

Four years ago in Kuala Lumpur, Japan created history by entering the Thomas Cup semi-finals for the first time. They achieved the same result two years ago in Wuhan, losing in the semi-finals to eventual winners China. This time around in New Delhi, Japan have rewritten history by storming into the finals, and they further adorned it by setting hands on the Thomas Cup in their first time showing up in the final.

Behind all the history created by Japan is their head coach Park Joo Bong, who despite being one of the most successful shuttlers in the history of badminton, never won the Thomas Cup during his reign as a player for Korea. Park was part of the coaching squad in Malaysia the last time the team made it into the Thomas Cup final 12 years ago, and was also a coach in Korea’s national team when Korea entered the semi-finals in 2004. After decades of longing for the Thomas Cup as a player and a coach, Park finally had his hands on the trophy in New Delhi.

The 2014 Thomas and Uber Cup championships ended with Park Joo Bong being one of the biggest winners of the week, having led Japan’s men’s team to their historical victory and their women’s team into their first Uber Cup final in 33 years.

Thomas Cup final result: Japan 3, Malaysia 2
MS1: Kenichi Tago lost to Lee Chong Wei 12-21, 16-21
MD1: Hiroyuki Endo / Kenichi Hayakawa beat Hoon Thien How / Tan Boon Heong 12-21, 21-17, 21-19
MS2: Kento Momota beat Chong Wei Feng 21-15, 21-17
MD2: Keigo Sonoda / Takeshi Kamura lost to Goh V Shem / Tan Wee Kiong 21-19, 17-21, 12-21
MS3: Takuma Ueda beat Liew Daren 21-12, 18-21, 21-17

Click here for complete Thomas Cup results

About Ee-Lyn Ooi