It was fitting that Goh Liu Ying’s final match as a professional shuttler was a three-gamer in front of her adoring home crowd at PETRONAS Malaysia Open 2023.
An extra game meant extra opportunities for the fans at Axiata Arena to fete the darling of the day. Every shuttle retrieved, every shot hit, every point earned was cheered with gusto. Defeat could not be avoided but an emotional Goh exited the court to what seemed like eternal adulation.
The 33-year-old didn’t quite get over the line; she and old partner Chan Peng Soon, reunited for one last dance, fell 21-18 15-21 7-21 to up-and-coming Indonesians Rehan Naufal Kusharjanto/Lisa Ayu Kusumawati. Chan and Goh, once the world’s third best mixed pair, had ended their 13-year partnership in December 2021.
“My final match being in Malaysia is really special. I felt proud hearing the crowd chant my name. I’m happy to be here, I’m happy to represent Malaysia one final time,” said a choked up Goh.
“Everything I went through has been worth it. I have achieved things I never imagined I would. Before the match I wanted to at least take a game and give the fans something to celebrate. We are lucky they’ve been behind us from our first match here. I feel moved by the support. A small regret is we never won this title.”
Chan and Goh made their Malaysia Open debut in 2008 and went on to feature at 12 editions, finishing runners-up in 2013 and 2016.
Asked how the outing went, Chan laughed: “Not bad, like we never parted.” Goh replied: “I missed playing with him. We achieved a lot together, this is a memory I will cherish forever.”
In total, Chan and Goh won 12 titles, on top of the 2010 Asian Championships gold in New Delhi. The defining moment of their career as a pair, however, was the Rio 2016 Olympic Games silver.
“That’s us hitting our peak,” recalled Goh, to date the only Malaysian female shuttler to medal at the Summer Games.
When Goh concluded by saying “I wish him all the best”, the 34-year-old Chan quickly responded “almost”, hinting he could hang his racket soon too.
Kusharjanto also paid Goh tribute.
“I’m happy to be part of this match. We grew up watching her play. We hope to be successful as well,” said the 22-year-old.
When the final shuttle dropped, Goh had a lightbulb moment – “this is the end of my career”.
A career so colourful and respectable that it would be remembered and celebrated for years to come.
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