Mon, Aug 20, 2007 - Page 20 News List

Chinese claim badminton sigles titles

AFP , KUALA LUMPUR

China's Lin Dan celebrates after defeating Indonesia's Sony Dwi Kuncoro 21-12, 22-20 in the men's single final at the World Badminton Championships in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

PHOTO: AP

China's No.1 Lin Dan and fifth-seeded Zhu Lin clinched the coveted men's and women's world badminton crowns yesterday, as Indonesia also savored victory with two doubles titles.

Defending champion Dan downed Indonesia's Sony Dwi Kuncoro 21-11, 22-20 in a dramatic final to become only the second men's singles player in history to win consecutive world championship titles.

Lin, known as Super Dan to his legion of fans, dropped to the floor and pulled his shirt over his head as the 9,000-strong crowd cheered his win.

"I'm very happy with his win, it's the result of much hard work," he said.

Lin was criticized by his coach in the lead-up to the tournament for lacking commitment after he lost a dead rubber match at the Sudirman Cup in Scotland, but the champion said he had never stopped working hard.

"Every step is a new beginning and a new challenge and I just try to improve myself and I never give up or relax even though I've won so many tournaments," he said.

Lin, 23, said he has long wanted to emulate Chinese great Yang Yang who won his world titles in 1987 and 1989.

"He is one of my idols since childhood and I have worked hard to try to follow in his footsteps," he said.

Kuncoro, seeded ninth, showed flashes of the form that brought him a surprise win against Malaysian star Lee Chong Wei earlier in the tournament.

giant flags

He clawed his way back into the second game, fighting from 6-12 down to level the score at 14-14 with an overhead jumping smash shot that brought roars from the crowd, which had draped Putra Stadium in giant Indonesian flags.

The pair matched point for point in a final tense encounter but Lin eventually held on for a 22-20 win.

World No.5 Zhu was never in doubt in her final against Wang Chen, downing the Hong Kong sixth seed 21-8, 21-12.

Zhu watched her more famous teammates, including world No.1 Zhang Ning and defending champion Xie Xingfang, bounced from the tournament.

But Zhu said she felt under no pressure during the match to ensure the coveted crown stayed in China's already bulging trophy cabinet.

"This is my biggest title. I was looking forward to this game very much but I didn't expect to win," Zhu said.

"I spoke with her [Zhang] before the game and we talked about how to beat Chen but there was no pressure," she said. "I just wanted to go out there and play my best."

China, a powerhouse of badminton, had been gunning for a clean sweep of all five world titles ahead of next year's Beijing Olympics. It triumphed in women's doubles in an all-China battle, but still came up two crowns short.

In the women's doubles, third seeds Yang Wei and Zhang Jiewen fought off defending champions Gao Ling and Huang Sui for a 21-16, 21-19 victory.

But Indonesia denied the Chinese victory in the mixed doubles, with Nova Widianto and Lilyana Natsir outclassing number ones Zheng Bo and Gao Ling.

The second seeded Indonesians took command from the outset and never let the Chinese mount a strong fightback, winning 21-16, 21-14.

birthday

"We lost last year so it's great to win again especially on Indonesia's 62nd independence birthday," said Widianto who won in 2005 with Natsir.

"Our strategy was to attack Bo and he looked very nervous when we kept doing that," he said.

Indonesia also clinched the men's doubles title thanks to Markis Kido and Hendra Setiawan, who played a fast and furious match against South Korea's Jung Jae-sung and Lee Yong-dae.

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