Cheah Liek Hou had trouble sleeping in the wee hours of Sunday morning (September 5), after he endured a roller-coaster eventful Saturday just hours earlier.

Waking up early Saturday morning to prepare for his semi-final, and win, check.

Get some rest to recover, play in the final just a few hours later and win that too, check.

Cheah claimed his gold medal at the podium top, watched the national flag raised with pride, and completed the medal ceremony.

Back at his hostel room, he posted up his historic triumph on social media by copying the pose of Tokyo Olympics silver medalist Azizulhasni Awang, with permission of course.

A post shared by Cheah Liek Hou (@cheahliekhou4956)

After replying to some of the tons of congratulatory messages that were flooding his phone, it was finally time to give his body – which had given him everything he could ask for – a well-deserved rest.

But perhaps unsurprisingly, sleep just would not come.

“I closed my eyes and tried to sleep, but I just could not. My whole body was tired, but I could not rest. Until now, I still cannot believe I beat him in straight games.

“I received so many messages throughout the night. I have never had this feeling before,” Cheah told Stadium Astro from his quarantine room at the Paralympics Sports Complex in Kuala Lumpur.

After beating world number one and top seed Dheva Anrimusthi in straight games (21-17, 21-15) to claim the historic Paralympics badminton gold for the first time, Cheah was still adrenaline charged and it was completely understandable.

But to fully understand the magnitude of his rollercoaster of emotions, we have to go back to Cheah’s semi-final clash against Chinese Taipei’s Fang Jen Yu.

The world number two had beaten Fang in straight games in their group match, and was excited at the prospect of another straightforward victory.

It was anything but.

“I was excited to play him again after winning in the group stage. Perhaps a little overconfident. But Fang played without pressure, got the points and won the first game. Then I started to worry.

“I told myself to focus and increase the tempo, play a faster game. I eventually won in three games (15-21, 21-10, 21-16). But I felt I played badly in that semis, and I started to worry about the final. ”

Cheah had battled for 51-minutes to overcome Fang, and now needed to conserve as much energy to prepare for the showdown against Dheva.

The world number two knew he was going to be drawn into many long rallies against the tournament favourite, and was anticipating the final to go to the wire.

As it unfolded, the pressure was more on Dheva than Cheah, leaving him to be the dominant force throughout the 50-minute contest.

“I couldn’t imagine winning in straight games. I played three games in the morning and burnt a lot of energy. But Dheva was even more pressured than me. His country depended on him to win gold as world number one.

“He also knew how much I had improved training under coach Rashid (Sidek) programme. Coach told me the pressure was on him, don’t stress yourself out. So I focused from the start. Preserved energy wherever I could. The strategy worked to perfection,” he said.

Being a left-hander, Cheah said Rashid always told him to learn from the playbook of the two greatest southpaws of the game – Lin Dan and Kento Momota.

“He told me to watch numerous videos of them. Watch their movement, see how they execute winners. I read up a lot on them, watch plenty of videos too. All that, stored in my memory.

“What I learnt most from Rashid is his knowledge and experience which he shared with me. He never kept information to himself. We formed a strong bond after spending so much time together.”

So, back to Cheah’s Saturday. After posing for pictures after the win, he was desperate to answer his vibrating phone, with the first call coming from his wife, Dewi Febriana Tan.

But in the midst of all the chaos, he was whisked to the doping room by an official to do the customary test.

Eventually he spoke to his wife, and then his mom, in the changing room.

Like every noble champion, Cheah is hoping his victory in the Standing Upper 5 (upper body impairment), would inspire the next generation to pursue any sports, despite the challenges that lie ahead.

“After winning, I received many messages from parents saying they have kids with similar impairments. I encouraged them to encourage their kids to step out and be brave. Do not doubt themselves.

“I am proof that anyone, regardless of their physical ability, can achieve big things in life. It’s good for the kids, good for the sport too.”

Now that he achieved a career Grand Slam, having also won on the Asean, Asian and World Championships stage, what else left in store for Cheah?

“I want to just enjoy my badminton. If I win, great. If I lose, it doesn’t matter.

“But in three years, I will be back in Paris [for the 2024 Paralympics].”

Perhaps another gold, another history etched.

Then another sleepless night.