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Asians still the kingpins of Olympics badminton

Aug 23rd, 2016
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China may not have repeated their five gold medal haul they achieved at the 2012 London Olympics when they swept the men's and women's singles, men's and women's doubles and the mixed doubles for a clean sweep but Asians still dominated badminton in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics which ended on Sunday.


The only title that eluded the Asians was the women's singles where Spain's two-time world champion Carolina Marin, ranked No 1 in the world and the top seed in Rio, became the first non-Asian to win the event.


It was a first for Spain and first for Europe but elsewhere the Asians dominated with China retaining the men's singles and the men's doubles. Asia also won the mixed doubles through Tontowi Ahmad-Liliyana Natsir of Indonesia.


The men's singles title saw second seed and two-time world champion Chen Long delivering the gold against Malaysia's world No 1 and top seed Lee Chong Wei who fell at the final hurdle for the third time after losing to Lin Dan in Beijing Olympics (2008) and London. 
Where Lin Dan failed China delivered through Chen Long who added the Olympic gold to his world title with a  21-18, 21-18 over Chong Wei.


Plucky Europe sent Lin Dan home empty handed when he was beaten by Denmark's Viktor Axelsen in the bronze medal playoff. The Dane won 15-21, 21-10, 21-17 and has now set his sights on winning the gold in Tokyo Olympics in 2020.


Chong Wei was the hot-favourite for the men's singles gold after he packed off his nemesis "Super Dan" in the semi-finals 15-21, 21-11, 22-20 but he found Chen Long "too hot to handle" in the final as the Chinese ace answered all that was thrown at him. Chen Long had also beaten Chong Wei for the world title in Jakarta in August last year.


For Chong Wei it was his third heartbreak in an Olympic final. But nothing is confirmed if Lin Dan and Chong Wei will still be around at the next Olympics. The duo still have plenty of competitive badminton in them although age has caught up with them. Chong Wei is 33 while Lin Dan is 32.
  
Where the Chinese flopped in the women's doubles the men's doubles title remained with China. Fu Haifeng-Zhang Nan turned the tables on Malaysia's Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong in the final with a 21-16, 11-21, 23-21 win.


The unseeded Malaysian pair had beaten Haifeng-Zhang in Group C - winning 16-21, 21-15, 21-18. But in the gold medal match nerves and pressure got the better of V Shem-Wee Kiong and this was evident when they fumbled twice in the rubber at match point which swung the match China's way.

The gold might have slipped from their grasp but V Shem-Wee Kiong's 17-21, 21-18, 21-19 win over top seeds and world No 1 Lee Yong-dae-Yoo Yeon-seong in the quarter-finals spells a bright career for them in their game and can only go up in their rankings with consistency.
Japan added their might to the Asian domination in badminton in the Olympics when world No 1 and top seeds Misaki Matsutomo-Ayaka Takahashi pulled off a sensational three set win over veteran Denmark pair Christinna Pedersen-Kamilla Rhytter Juhl in the women's doubles final.


The Japanese pair showed tremendous fighting spirit to reel off five five straight points in their come-from-behind 18-21, 21-9, 21-19 win - to snatch the gold from the jaws of defeat to register a first for Japan. It was Japan's first ever women's doubles title in Olympics.


Misaki-Ayaka have won three Superseries titles so far this year and the Olympic gold is an acing on the cake - and are expected to be a dominant force in women's doubles. And not to forget that Japan will host the next Olympics in Tokyo in 2020.


India's P. V. Sindhu is the latest darling of Indian badminton. No one gave her a chance to reach the final -let alone win a medal after the exit of Saina Nehwal who failed to make the knockout stage.


Nehwal, a bronze medal winner at the London Olympics, was eliminated in the group stage when she was beaten by Ukraine's Maria Ulitina in a crucial Group G match. The seeded Nehwal's defeat was blamed on an inflamed right knee. Nehwal has since undergone surgery for the injury at leading hospital in Mumbai. 


However, the lanky 21-year-old Sindhu showed her stuff that is on par with the best in the world. Only her lack of big match experience allowed Marin write herself into the history books.


The 2012 Asian Youth Under-19 champion also wrote history as the first Indian woman to win a silver medal in the history of Olympics.
In the mixed doubles champions Tontowi Ahmad-Liliyana Natsir of Indonesia and silver medallists Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying of Malaysia also got their names in the history annals.
It was Indonesia's first gold medal in the mixed doubles while the Malaysians became the first pair to be on the podium in the event after losing all their matches in the London Olympics. Remarkably Tontowi-Liliyana made good their promise to win the gold in Rio after failing to land a medal at the London Olympics.


Indonesia also have a strong second pair in the mixed doubles - reigning All England champions Praveen Jordan-Debby Susanto. Unfortunately they met Tontowi-Liliyana in the quarter-finals in Rio and lost to the eventual champions.


Except for the blot in the women's singles Asian shuttlers once again ruled badminton in the Olympics.   

RESULTS (All Finals)
Men's Singles
Chen Long (Chn) beat Lee Chong Wei (Mas) 21-18, 21-18
Bronze Medal Playoff
Viktor Axelsen (Den) beat Lin Dan (Chn) 15-21, 21-10, 21-17

Men's Doubles
Fu Haifeng-Zhang Nan (Chn) beat Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong (Mas) 21-16, 11-21, 23-21
Bronze Medal Playoff
Marcus Ellis-Chris Langridge (Gbr) beat Chai Biao-Hong Wei (Chn) 21-18, 19-21, 21-10

Women's Singles
Carolina Marin (Spn) beat P.V. Sindhu (Ind) 19-21, 21-12, 21-15
Bronze Medal Playoff
Nozomi Okuhara (Jpn) walkover Li Xuerui (Chn)

Women's Doubles
Misaki Matsutomo-Ayaka Takahashi (Jpn) beat Christinna Pedersen-Kamilla Rytter Juhl (Den) 18-21, 21-9, 21-19
Bronze Medal Playoff
Jung Kyung-eun-Shin Seung-chan (Kor) beat Tang Yuanting-Yu Yang (Chn) 21-8, 21-17

Mixed Doubles
Tontowi Ahmad-Liliyana Natsir (Ina) beat Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying (Mas) 21-14, 21-12
Bronze Medal Playoff
Zhang Nan-Zhao Yunlei (Chn) beat Xu Chen-Ma Jin (Chn) 21-7, 21-11

 


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