China's Chen wins Olympic gold to deny Taiwan badminton double
Tokyo (AFP) –
China's Chen Yufei claimed women's badminton singles gold on Sunday, denying Taiwan a second straight night of success in the sport.
Taiwan had bagged its first-ever Olympic badminton medal the previous night with gold in the men's doubles competition.
But Chen ensured there would be no repeat in the women's singles, beating world number one Tai Tzu-ying 21-18, 19-21, 21-18 to capture the title.
Tai scuffed a shot into the net to end a marathon final rally, and Chen fell to her knees and roared to the rafters.
India's P.V. Sindhu took bronze, beating China's He Bingjiao 21-13, 21-15.
Sindhu, the world champion and 2016 Rio Games silver medallist, said she had to focus to put the disappointment of losing to Tai in the semi-finals behind her.
"I had to had close all my emotions for this one match and just give my all," she said.
"I'm very happy and I think I've done really well."
In men's singles, Denmark's world number two Viktor Axelsen overcame a nervy start to move into the final, ending Guatemalan underdog Kevin Cordon's unlikely tilt at the title.
World number 59 Cordon has been the surprise package in Tokyo but Axelsen was ultimately too clinical for him, winning their semi-final 21-18, 21-11.
The Dane will face China's defending champion Chen Long in Monday's final, and he was glad to secure a top-two finish after taking bronze at the 2016 Rio Games.
"Obviously I want more than just a final -- this is not enough for me," said Axelsen.
"I was so tense and wanted it so badly, so I couldn't even enjoy the game today. In a few hours I'll be really happy and proud, but right now it's just relief."
The two players were meeting for the first time, and Cordon's unorthodox style caused Axelsen some early problems.
"He has a really volatile playing style," said Axelsen.
"He's really aggressive, playing tricky shots and a little bit unusual shots, but with good quality. So it was tough for me to get the pace high enough."
Cordon still has a chance to claim Guatemala's second-ever Olympic medal in Monday's bronze playoff against Indonesia's Anthony Sinisuka Ginting.
"I had a chance in the first set," said Cordon, whose run to the semis has captivated his native Guatemala.
"I took a risk to try to play faster than him or try to attack with my smash, but there were some easy mistakes. And of course, with these kind of top players it's not easy to win easy points."
Rio champion Chen has the chance to emulate Chinese badminton legend Lin Dan in winning consecutive 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 semi-finals -- I just needed to execute," said Chen.
"Because I haven't played internationally for the past year and a half, I don't know what level my opponents are at. That was a big question mark coming into the Olympics, so I'm happy I've been able to play well."
© 2021 AFP