Aiman Hafizul Akram Abdullah (pic) was crowned champion of the boys' singles event of the National Badminton Championship Brunei Darussalam after a hard fought 2-1 (21-19, 19-21, 21-18) victory over Md Arif Hj Md Seruddin last night.
The match was equally contested in the opening set with neither player able to exert dominance over the other at the Indoor Stadium of the Hassanal Bolkiah National Sports Complex in Berakas.
With the scores deadlocked at 19-19, two consecutive mistakes by Md Arif saw his opponent claim the first set.
Aiman got off to a hot start in the second set to score the first five points. Md Arif was out of form as he trailed 11-6 heading into the interval.
He turned things around to close in to within 12-11 before Aiman blasted his way to a 19-15 advantage.
It looked over at that point before a series of mistakes allowed Arif to claim the next six points to force a decisive set.
It was neck-and-neck at the start of the third set but it was Aiman who opened up a 9-5.
Arif responded and took things up a notch to take an 11-10 lead at the interval.
Aiman regained the lead and smashed his way to a 15-13 lead before seeking medical attention.
Arif notched the next two points to tie things at 15-15.
The set looked like a replay of the second when Aiman pulled away to 19-15 before making three straight mistakes.
He ensured that the ending would not be the same by scoring the last two points to close out the game.
"I just lost my focus and concentration (towards the end of the second set). The game was really close but it was a good win against a strong opponent," said Aiman in an interview with The Brunei Times after the win.
"I made quite a number of mistakes and I remembered my coach's advise to not be scared (to close out the match)," said the 16-year-old.
Md Arif, who crumbled to the ground after losing the match, is not taking away anything from his opponent.
"I thought I played well and he (Aiman) did as well," said the 18-year-old.
"I looked at my parents' eyes and it lifted my spirits to make the comeback (in the second set). It was always difficult as he had plenty of backing from the supporters," added the Sengkurong Sixth Form student.
Three other finals were contested last night as well.
Celeny Rohana Roma Tius Anak Tikom won the girls singles with a 2-0 (21-19, 21-10) victory over Nurmasrinah@didik Adinah Maslan.
In the final of the women's singles, Siti Marinah Mohd Salleh defeated Noor Nekma R Hj Rosley 2-0 (21-14, 21-10).
The duo of Yusof Hj Ghani and Robert Liaw Poh Chian claimed top honours in the men's veteran doubles with a 2-0 (21-8, 21-17) triumph over the pair of Hj Mohammad Daud Hj Ismail and Ng Hui Hua.
The competition will conclude today with four more finals - boys' doubles, women's doubles, men's singles and men's doubles - from 8pm onwards.