INDONESIAN veteran Ukun Rukaendi retained the men’s singles SL3 (impairment in one or both lower limbs) gold medal with a 21-15, 7-21, 21-11 win over home favourite Muhammad Huzairi Abdul Malek – denying the Malaysian his maiden title in four attempts.
The 48-year-old Ukun has decided not to defend his ASEAN title in Manila in 2019, choosing instead to concentrate on the 2018 Asian Games which will be held in Jakarta.
“At the age of 48, it is enough. I have decided to call it quits at the ASEAN level. I have won the gold three times. I will give next year’s Asian Para Games a shot, and win or lose it will be my last international assignment,” said Ukun. Ukun won his first gold in Indonesia (2011) and again in Singapore in 2015. Badminton was not an event at the 2013 ASEAN Para Games in Myanmar.
The father of three went down on his knees to kiss the court three times after the shot by Huzairi was called out for the winning point. The silver is consolation for Huzairi – which is an improvement on his previous best – a bronze in 2015 in Singapore.
Huzairi’s path to the finals however, was a commendable effort. He toppled top seed, and former world, Asian and three-time Asean champion Pham Duc Trung of Vietnam 27-29, 21-15, 11-0 (rtd) in the quarter-finals and beat Indonesia’s Maman Nurjaman 21-14, 14-21, 21-11 in the semi-finals to settle for silver.