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ARKIB : 12/01/2004

Chong Wei retains title

SEREMBAN Jan 11 - Defending champion Lee Chong Wei maintained his remarkable performance to retain the Proton-EON National Grand Prix Badminton Finals 2003, at the Negeri Sembilan Chinese Recreation Club, here Sunday night.

Described as the country's most improved men's singles for last season, the 22-year-old Chong Wei beat national squad teammate Yeoh Kay Bin in straight sets 15-5, 15-6 in 30 minutes.

Currently number 18 in the world ranking, Chong Wei stunned the only senior who made the cut into this Grand Prix Finals, Lee Tsuen Seng in the semifinals Saturday, and Sunday night's win was a morale booster for him to make it into the best 16, to qualify for the Athens Olympics in August.

This is also his second national title, but his fourth for 2003 after winning the 2002 National Grand Prix last February, Luster Open (November) and Kuala Lumpur Open (December) - his first national title.

Chong Wei, who will miss the Chinese New Year to compete in the Thailand Open which will start on Jan 21, took control of the opener with his combination of jumping smashes and net play to take the lead 6-0.

Kay Bin, the Indian Satellite champion, only managed to collect a point before Chong Wei added four points through one service.

His opponent then tried to make a comeback by adding four points to 10-5 before the more energetic Chong Wei sealed the first set 15-5.

Chong Wei took control of the second set by leading 5-0, 6-4, 10-4 before Kay Bin collected two more points. The defending champion then sealed the winning set 15-6.

"I didn't expect an easy win against Kay Bin in the final. He seemed to have lost his focus and made many mistakes.

"But it was really an exhausting game because I collected most of my points through jumping smashes," Chong Wei told reporters after the game.

He collected RM7,000 while Kay Bin received RM3,600.00.

When asked to comment on his performance Sunday night, Kay Bin said he was not playing his usual game.

"I lost my focus and Chong Wei's performance too has improved," he said.

Luster Open champion Koo Kien Keat/Gan Teik Chai won the men's doubles when they beat SEA Games silver medallist Chew Choon Eng/Chang Kim Wai 3-15, 15-0, 15-12 in the final.

Both shared the RM11,000 prize money while the runner-ups walked away with RM6,000.

In the women's singles, as expected SEA Games gold medallist Wong Mew Choo easily retained her title and pocketed RM4,000 when she defeated Norsyahliza Baharum 11-6, 11-9.

The pair of Mohd Zakry Latif/Joanne Quay defeated Gan Teik Chai/Fong Chew Yen 15-8, 17-16 to win the mixed doubles title.

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