Taiwanese badminton duo Lee Yang (李洋) and Wang Chi-lin (王齊麟) yesterday won the nation’s first Olympic gold medal in the sport when they prevailed over a third-seeded Chinese pair in the final of the men’s doubles at the Tokyo Olympics.
Lee and Wang, both first-time Olympians, defeated Liu Yuchen (劉雨辰) and Li Junhui (李俊慧) 21-18, 21-12 in a 34-minute final at the Musashino Forest Sports Plaza.
As of yesterday, Taiwan had bagged seven medals in Tokyo — two golds, two silvers and three bronzes — topping its previous best of five medals in 2000 and 2004.
Taiwan moved to No. 17 in the medals count on the Tokyo Olympics Web site.
China, Japan and the US placed first, second and third respectively.
Earlier, Taiwan’s Tai Tzu-ying (戴資穎) knocked India’s Pusarla V. Sindhu out of the women’s singles semi-finals in a clash between two of badminton’s best players.
In the first game, which world No. 1 Tai won 21-18 against Rio de Janeiro silver medalist and seventh-ranked Pusarla, the pair were evenly matched.
However, Tai picked up the pace in the second game, finishing Pusarla off 21-12 in 19 minutes.
“I reduced my mistakes and therefore didn’t have as much pressure on me,” Tai said, adding that she was not yet nervous about playing in today’s final against China’s second-ranked Chen Yufei (陳雨菲), but probably would be just before the match.
“I need to go back and relax and prepare for tomorrow, because it’s not over yet,” Pusarla said, with her eye on bronze in a match against China’s He Bingjiao (何冰嬌).
Chen overcame teammate He in the other semi-final in a battle of wills that the former won 21-16, 13-21, 21-12 and celebrated with a roar.
Earlier on Saturday, 34-year-old Kevin Cordon, who at age 12 moved from rural Zacapa in Guatemala to the capital city to pursue his dreams of reaching the Olympics, crushed South Korea’s Heo Kwang-hee 21-13, 21-18 to make the semi-finals.
Cordon, who ranks 59th in the world, has a shot at winning Guatemala’s second-ever Olympic medal.
“I play really hard with my heart. I don’t think, I just play,” said an exhilarated, red-eyed Cordon, who fell to the floor and curled up sobbing at the end of the match.
“It’s not easy for us as a country — there are more important things in Guatemala to support than sport,” said Cordon, who is named after England soccer great Kevin Keegan. “That’s our reality.”
Cordon faces Denmark’s world No. 2 Viktor Axelsen, who beat China’s Shi Yuqi (石宇奇) 21-13, 21-13.
Denmark’s Anders Antonsen was knocked out in the quarter-finals 21-18, 15-21, 21-18 by Anthony Sinisuka Ginting of Indonesia.
Ginting next meets China’s Chen Long (諶龍), who beat Taiwan’s Chou Tien-chen (周天成) 21-14, 9-21, 21-14 with a tight net game and sharp smashes.
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