HONG KONG'S bronze-winning badminton team stood tall and united on the victory podium, signalling the end of a trying eight-month period in which personnel changes and internal squabbling threatened to fracture the squad on their arrival in Victoria. The territory were beaten 3-2 by Malaysia in the Commonwealth Games mixed team semi-finals, a result that could have been reversed but for the inexperience of the women's doubles squad. Malaysia were beaten 3-2 in a thrilling final by defending champions England. But for team manager Diana Lo Leung Bik-luen, the bronze medal was beyond expectations and was achieved under difficult circumstances. Earlier this year, four key senior men's players retired from competitive player, injuries jeopardised the availability of some players, and the pressures of medal expectation resulted in internal conflict. Lo revealed that the mixed doubles pair of Chan Siu-kwong and Chung Ho-yuk, two of the outstanding players in the competition so far, were not speaking to each other when the team arrived in Canada for the Games last week. But the fighting spirit instilled into the squad at the start of the arduous mixed team competition washed away all personal differences. After the Malaysian defeat, Lo said: ''No one gave us a chance at the start of the competition. ''But I told the players that we were the dark horses and that if we get together and give it all we've got, we could get something out of it. ''Without the fighting spirit, we would not have got this far. That's what brought the mixed doubles pair together.'' Lo took special delight that badminton gave Hong Kong their first medal of the Games. And she is hoping the fire does not go out as the squad prepares for individual and doubles competitions. Earlier men's singles player Wong Wai-lap lost 15-1, 15-4 to Malaysia's Rashid Sidek before Chan Oi-ni, who also stood out for the territory, equalised for Hong Kong with a 11-5, 11-1 win over Kuak Sieok Choon. Malaysia took a 2-1 lead when their powerful men's doubles team of Cheah Soon Kit and Soo Beng Kiang defeated Ma Che-kong and Tam Kai-chuen 15-3, 15-3. After losing the first set and down 13-7 in the second, Wong and Tung staged a brilliant comeback and were eventually serving at 13-14 down. But both players hit their short serves to the net. The Malaysians took full advantage to win the rubber and put their country into the final. Hong Kong's mixed doubles team then beat Tan Kim Har and Zamaliah Sidek 15-6, 17-15 to make the final score 3-2 in Malaysia's favour.