Home2018Japan ends 48 year wait for the womens team gold

Japan ends 48 year wait for the womens team gold

Japan upstaged 10-time winner and defending champions China 3-1 to sensationally wrest the Asian Games women’s team gold medal after a lengthy 48-year wait. The Japanese players were in awesome form today as they demolished China to claim the gold for the first time since the 1970 Bangkok Asian Games.

Today’s victory caps a remarkable year for the Japanese women’s team, who were crowned the Uber Cup champions in May this year. They maintained their form and it was no real surprise when they dethroned the most successful nation in Asian Games women’s badminton team history. For Japan, this is their third women’s team gold medal after victories in 1966 and 1970. Prior to today, Japan had lost every final to China (1982, 1986 and 2006).

In the opening tie today, Akane Yamaguchi, second in the latest world rankings, fell for the second successive day. Yesterday, she lost to Indonesian Gregoria Tunjung in the semis and was expected to deliver a better round today. Instead, it was Chen Yufei, ranked fifth, that delivered a steady performance to upstage Akane and grab the crucial opening point.

At 15-13, Akane, who was struggling at times, was still well in contention. But a series of errors allowed Yufei to build a gap and she comfortably leading 19-14 before winning 20-15. Yufei pressed on and took an early 4-0 lead which she held on to the end. Akane briefly closed in at the halfway point but could not do much to stop Yufei from winning 21-12.

World No.1 pair, Yuki Fukushima-Sayaka Hirota continued their smashing form in the team event with a convincing display against third ranked Chen Qingchen-Jia Yifan. It was the Japanese pair all the way in the first game which they won 21-12. They led 11-4 but their hopes of a quick finish were ruined when the Chinese pair charged back with seven straight points to level at 11-all. Yuki-Sayaka regained their rhythm and pulled away 16-11 but again the Chinese caught up. In the end, Yuki-Sayaka kept their cool and won 21-17 to earn Japan their first point of the final.

Nozomi Okuhara, ranked eighth in the BWF rankings, knew she had to win to give Japan a shot at the gold. Like Nozomi, He Bingjiao, ranked seventh, also needed to win to keep China on track. But she faced stiff opposition from a tenacious Nozomi who took the first game at 21-16. With so much at stake, He Bingjiao fired back and was soon calling the shots. The lead exchanged hands several times but at 16-14, He Bingjiao, then holding the lead, suffered a scare when she landed awkwardly as she attempted to retrieve a deceiving drop from Nozomi. She recovered and went on to win 21-19. Any hopes of a Chinese comeback however were put down when Nozomi took charge of the decider 21-15 for Japan to lead 2-1.

Misaki Matsutomo-Ayaka Takahashi, second in the world rankings, lived up to expectations and outplayed their less experienced rivals. Huang Dongping-Zheng Yu, who played in the Uber Cup earlier this year, were no match in the first game, going down somewhat tamely 21-16. Huang-Zheng moved ahead but only briefly at the start before Misaki-Ayaka turned up the heat. At 11-7, there was sense that the match over.

The Japanese players on the bench were already smiling in anticipation of a historic victory. Misaki-Ayaka did not falter and deservingly won 21-11 to hand the gold to Japan after almost five decades.

Meanwhile the bronze medal went to Indonesia and Thailand.

WOMEN’S TEAM FINAL LINE-UP

Japan bt China 3-1

Akane Yamaguchi lost to Chen Yufei 15-21, 12-21

Yuki Fukushima-Sayaka Hirota bt Chen Qingchen-Jia Yifan 21-12, 21-17

Nozomi Okuhara vs He Bingjiao 21-16, 19-21, 21-15

Misaki Matsutomo-Ayaka Takahashi vs Huang Dongping-Zheng Yu 21-16, 21-11

MEN’S FINAL

(starts 6pm Jakarta time)

 

WOMEN'S TEAM PAST WINNERS

1962: Indonesia

1966: Japan

1970: Japan

1974: China

1978: China

1982: China

1986: China

1990: China

1994: South Korea

1998: China

2002: China

2006: China

2010: China

2014: China

2018: Japan 

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