China perform clean sweep in the badminton05/08/2012 - 17:06:27
China completed an unprecedented clean sweep of gold medals to end their controversial London 2012 tournament with an emphatic statement.
The Olympic competition at Wembley Arena is destined to be remembered for the Chinese-instigated controversy surrounding the disqualification of four women’s doubles pairs for match-fixing.
But in terms of talent, the Chinese proved they are way ahead of the rest as they added men’s singles and doubles titles to the three they had already claimed in the other disciplines.
Defending champion Lin Dan led the way with a victory over arch-rival Lee Chong Wei that surely erases any slight doubt over whether he is the greatest player of all time.
Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng then wrapped up the job for China by seeing off Denmark’s Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen in their final.
Lin, also the reigning world champion, became the first man to retain an Olympic badminton title with a 15-21 21-10 21-19 victory in another epic contest against the Malaysian world number one.
The pair had met in the final at Beijing 2008 and in last year’s World Championships at the same venue with the latter being one of the sport’s classic matches.
This latest meeting will go down as another, thrilling a capacity crowd over 79 spellbinding and gruelling minutes.
Some of the rallies were extraordinary – the longest lasting 46 strokes – but it was again Lee, seemingly the perennial runner-up, who had to settle for silver.
The contest had been tied at 19-19 in the third game but Lin edged ahead and took victory on his first match point.
Lin said: “Lee is such a brilliant rival. This is quite lucky for me. I treasure the opportunities to play against him.
“This gold again confirmed my hard work over the years, because I knew to get this again I’d have to work even harder.
“I had to sacrifice quite a lot after 2008 because I wanted to retain the title.”
Both players have previously hinted at retirement but 29-year-old Lee, who in any other era might have won a handful of major titles, does not appear ready for the end just yet.
Lee, who was in tears on the podium, said: “This is my second final with Lin Dan and I lost. I’m very disappointed I didn’t win.
“I will do my best to work hard, and maybe win a gold. I only intend to call it quits after the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games [in 2014].”
Lin hopes the final helped showcase the sport in the best light after the controversy of earlier in the week.
The 28-year-old said: “I really hope badminton isn’t affected by the disqualifications in this tournament.
“This medal is a confirmation of the (best of) sport. I hope that my performance and Lee’s performance today is evidence of that.”
Lin’s next pressing engagement is his wedding to 2008 Olympic silver medallist Xie Xingfang.
Lin said: “For me this is a bit of a headache preparing for the wedding. I definitely want to invite Lee and other great players.”
The men’s doubles final could not live up to those high standards and Cai and Fu enjoyed a relatively straightforward 21-16 21-15 win over the Danes.
The second seeds showed few signs of nerves as they completed China’s historic achievement.
But Fu said: “Of course we were very nervous – but we thought we played very well. We’re very proud of all five medals.”
The men’s singles bronze medal was won earlier in the day by third seed Chen Long of China, who beat South Korea’s Lee Hyun-il 21-12 15-21 21-15.
Koreans Chung Jae-sung and Lee Yong-dae claimed bronze in the men’s doubles with a 23-21 21-10 defeat of Thailand’s Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong.
The Badminton World Federation ended the tournament by announcing they would conduct a thorough review into the events of the past week, most notably the match-fixing furore.
While they took decisive action to disqualify the players there have been strong calls for the roles of coaches also to be looked into.
BWF secretary general Thomas Lund said: “The judicial process will include a full evaluation on all accounts including the players and the players’ entourages.”
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