Japan win historic women's doubles gold in Rio
World No 1 and top seeds Misaki Matsutomo-Ayaka Takashi are the pride of Japan and Asia as they came back from the brink of defeat to win the women's doubles gold medal in badminton at the Rio Olympics.
The Japanese were staring at defeat but hit a purple patch when it mattered most to reel off five points in a row to clinch a come-from-behind 18-21, 21-9, 21-19 over their much more experienced and bigger sized opponents from Denmark Kamilla Rytter Juhl-Christinna Pedersen in 81 minutes.
Misaki-Ayaka showed that size did not matter on the court. Probably two things drove the Japanese to deliver not only a historic gold medal to Japan but also to keep the title with the Asians, who have dominated Olympics badminton since the sport made it debut at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992.
It was a historic first-ever women's doubles Olympic gold medal for Japan and Misaki-Ayaka lived up their billing as the tops seeds. The Japanese pair has three superseries titles behind them so far this year.
At the same time Misaki-Ayaka denied the Danish pair the honour of being the first non-Asians to win the coveted Olympic title.
"We had the title within our grasp when we were 19-16 up in the decider but simply lost focus and went off track," said a disappointed Pedersen after the defeat but gave credit to their Japanese opponents for winning the gold.
In the same event China continued with their miserable run in Rio and were denied a medal when second seeds Tang Yuanting-Yu Yang were beaten in the bronze medal playoff. The Chinese pair lost 8-21, 17-21 to Korean fourth seeds Jung Kyung-eun-Shin Seung-chan.
Gold Medal match
Misaki Matsutomo-Ayaka Takahashi (Jpn) beat Kamilla Rytter Julh (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