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Badminton: Chen Long downs Lee Chong Wei for World Champs gold

Chen Long (left) won his first World Championships men’s singles title with a straight-games win over World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei, who lost in the final for a third time. Photos: AFP.

Chen Long (left) won his first World Championships men’s singles title with a straight-games win over World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei, who lost in the final for a third time. Photos: AFP.

September 1, 2014: China’s Chen Long won his first World Championships title by beating World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei 21-19, 21-19 in the men’s singles final in Copenhagen on Sunday. For 31-year-old Lee, it was a third straight silver medal, after losing in 2011 and last year to Lin Dan, who didn’t compete this year.

 

There was an even bigger shock in the earlier women’s final, when Spain’s Carolina Marin stunned Li Xuerui 17-21, 21-17, 21-18, as China’s World No. 1 lost in the final for a second straight year, having being beaten by Thai teenager Ratchanok Inthanon in Guangzhou last August.

 

China’s Zhao Yunlei replicated her Olympic performance and became the first player for 15 years to take two titles at the same World Championships as she won gold in the women’s and mixed doubles.

 

Chen, 26, embraced his coaches and sank to his knees after the World No. 2 completed his win over Lee, who almost pulled back a six-point deficit in the second game.

 

The 25-year-old World No. 2 celebrates with coaches and teammates after a tense final.

The 25-year-old World No. 2 celebrates with coaches and teammates after a tense final.

Ultimately the Malaysian’s deft combinations of net shots, clears and ambushing attacks were not consistent enough to cope with the broad, tenacious defence and sudden heavy counter-attacks of his more physically powerful opponent.

 

“I would like to thank my coach Li Yongbo, but I am not yet World No.1,” said Chen, lost to Lin in last year’s tournament. “I will rest and get ready for the Asian Games.”

 

Lee, who lost to Lin in the finals of the last two Olympics, felt moved to apologise. “I am sorry that I didn’t win for my country,” he said. “I tried my best, but I made too many mistakes.”

 

Marin, 21, became Spain’s first-ever world champion and the first world singles champion from Europe for 15 years after completing one of the sport’s great upsets. The left-handed ninth seed had to come back from a game down and also came from behind in both the second and third games in a women’s final of extraordinary fluctuations.

 

Bronze medallists PV Sindhu of India and Minatsu Mitani of Japan beside surprise women’s champion Carolina Marin of Spain and runner-up Li Xuerui of China, the World No. 1.

Bronze medallists PV Sindhu of India and Minatsu Mitani of Japan beside surprise women’s champion Carolina Marin of Spain and runner-up Li Xuerui of China, the World No. 1.

Top-seeded Li looked likely to win when she led by a game and 15-12, but Marin suddenly conjured five points in a row and changed the character of the match. Li also led 15-13 in the third before Marin turned the game around again. After securing the title when Li put a service return into the net, the Spaniard threw herself on her back and sobbed with her hands over her eyes.

 

“I don’t really have the words, because it’s so fantastic,” Marin said. “I just set out to fight, fight, fight to the end. I began to believe it was possible. I thought she was tired. I just so much really wanted the gold medal at the end and now I am incredibly excited.”

 

Zhao doubles up for two golds

Zhao, 28, was also among the stars of the show, as first she teamed up with Tian Qing, also 28, to beat compatriots Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli 21-19, 21-15, with China already assured of winning the women’s doubles gold for the 12th straight time. Yu and Wang were bidding for a third straight title as a team, while Yu was seeking a fourth gold in a row.

 

The match tilted sharply in the direction of Zhao and Tian in the second half of the second game, when from 14-13 down they won eight of the last nine points; a sudden, startling sequence in a match that had previously been evenly fought.

 

“We feel emotional because we have been trying to win this title for a long time,” Zhao said. “It feels so good that now we finally did it.”

 

Zhao later returned the court with Zhang Nan to beat compatriots Chen Xu and Ma Jin 21-12, 21-23, 21-13 in the mixed doubles and add to their Olympics gold.

 

In between, Korea’s 12th seeds Shin Baek-choel and Ko Sung-hyun won the men’s doubles with a stunning upset over compatriots Lee Yong-dae and Yoo Yeon-seong. Shin and Ko won 22-20, 21-23, 21-18 in 80 minutes, despite failing to clinch the second game when leading 20-19.

 

Source: BWF (www.bwfbadminton.org); Editing by SportAsia

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