China’s Chen Yufei won gold in the women’s singles badminton on Sunday, depriving Taiwan of a second consecutive night of success in the sport.
Taiwan had won its first-ever Olympic badminton medal the night before with gold in the men’s doubles competition.
But Chen made sure there would be no repeat in the women’s singles, beating world number one Tai Tzu-ying 21-18, 19-21, 21-18 to claim the title.
Tai fired a shot into the net to end a final marathon rally, and Chen fell to her knees and roared up to the rafters.
India’s PV Sindhu won bronze, beating China’s He Bingjiao 21-13, 21-15.
Sindhu, world champion and Rio 2016 Games silver medalist, said she had to focus on putting the disappointment of losing to Tai in the semi-final behind her.
“I had to shut down all my emotions for this game and just give it my all,” she said.
“I am very happy and I think I did very well. “
In men’s singles, Danish world number two Viktor Axelsen overcame a nervous start to advance to the final, ending Kevin Cordon’s unlikely tilt for the title.
World number 59 Cordon was the surprise package in Tokyo but Axelsen ended up being too clinical for him, winning their semi-final 21-18, 21-11.
The Dane will face defending Chinese champion Chen Long in Monday’s final, and he was happy to have finished in the top two after winning bronze at the Rio 2016 Games.
# photo1 “Obviously I want more than just a final – that’s not enough for me,” said Axelsen.
“I was so tense and wanted it so badly that I couldn’t even enjoy the game today. In a few hours I’ll be really happy and proud, but for now it’s just a relief. “
The two were meeting for the first time, and Cordon’s unorthodox style caused Axelsen some trouble at first.
“He’s got a really volatile style of play,” Axelsen said.
“He’s really aggressive, plays delicate punches and slightly unusual punches, but of good quality. So it was difficult for me to have a sufficiently high pace. “
Cordon still has a chance to win Guatemala’s second Olympic medal in Monday’s bronze qualifiers against Indonesia’s Anthony Sinisuka Ginting.
“I had a chance in the first set,” said Cordon, whose race to the semi-finals captivated his native Guatemala.
“I took the risk of trying to play faster than him or trying to attack with my spike, but there were some easy mistakes. And of course, with those kind of top players, it’s not easy to earn easy points. “
Rio champion Chen has the chance to emulate Chinese badminton legend Lin Dan by winning back-to-back Olympic titles, after beating Ginting 21-16, 21-11 in the other semi-final.
“I didn’t think too much about my strategy because it’s already the semifinals – I just needed to run,” Chen said.
“Because I haven’t played internationally for a year and a half, I don’t know what level my opponents are at. It was a big question mark heading into the Olympics so I’m glad I got to play well. “
© 2021 AFP