The rising stars: Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik in mens doubles badminton
Ages: 25 (Chia), 24 (Soh)
Partners since: November 2017
Career high ranking: 5 (since August 30, 2022)
The newly crowned world champions are having the best badminton of their lives, as their title in Tokyo put them at their highest World Ranking at fifth. The credit will go to the coaching partnership of Rexy Mainaky and Tan Bin Shen.
With Chia learning the basics of the game from his father, Soh was born into a badminton family: his father and uncle were doubles specialists in their heydays, so the game was natural for him.
Aaron Chia, Soh Wooi Yik end Malaysia’s wait for badminton world title
It was a long process that began towards the tail end of 2017, although they have been paired together before in the juniors’ circuit, with their World Juniors experience a year prior saw them exit at the fourth round in Bilbao.
At their reunion in the senior circuit, Chia and Soh had the misfortune of being the bridesmaids, but never the bride, as they only went to eight tour finals and lost them all.
In two of those occasions, Thailand’s Maneepong Jongji and Nanthakarn Yordphaisong swept them in straight games in their title matches. The other two losses were to Indonesian superstar duo of Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan, both of which came into the deciding third game.
2019 turned to be the start of their rise, with their All-England run saw them scalp a pair of seeds, with their first victim were the 5th-seed pair of Kim Astrup and Anders Rasmussen of Denmark in the second round and took down the eight-seeded Indonesian duo of Fajar Alfian and Muhammad Ardianto in the last four, before their momentum was halted by the Daddies in the finale.
After their blitz in Birmingham, they won their first tournament as they took down Thailand’s Bodin Isara and Maneepong Jongjit in a marathon three-game affair to claim the SEA Games Gold in Muntinlupa.
The pandemic might have halted their progress but taking revenge on the Daddies led them to the delayed Tokyo Olympics in 2021, where they defeated their highly touted opposition in a three-game marathon to claim the bronze medal.
2022 started on a bright note for the pair as they took the Asian Team title in Selangor, that qualified them for the Thomas Cup in Bangkok. But despite winning all their three rubbers, Malaysia was knocked out of the quarterfinal by eventual champions India.
Chia and Soh came to the Commonwealth games in Birmingham as the top seed but settled for the bronze by beating their compatriots Chan Peng Soon and Tan Kian Meng. This was after the home bet of Ben Lane and Sean Vendy took them out in the semifinal.
Then the Malaysian duo entered the 2022 World Championships as the sixth seed and breezed through the final bracket by sweeping their first three matches, and eventually took down the Rankireddy-Shetty tandem from India from a game behind to go through to the final.
History was made on August 28, 2022, when they swept the Daddies in the final to achieve what even the great Lee Chong Wei failed to do: Win a World Championship Gold Medal.