Childhood friends give Taiwan first Olympic badminton medal

By: AFP      Published: 07:24 PM, 31 Jul, 2021
Childhood friends give Taiwan first Olympic badminton medal
Taiwan's Lee Yang (L) and Taiwan's Wang Chi-lin celebrate winning their men's doubles badminton final match against China's Li Junhui and China's Liu Yuchen during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Childhood friends Lee Yang and Wang Chi-lin won men's doubles badminton gold on Saturday in Tokyo, giving Taiwan its first Olympic medal in the sport.

They beat China's Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen 21-18, 21-12 in the final in just 34 minutes.

China won the mixed doubles the previous day and had hopes of pulling off a golden badminton sweep in the Japanese capital.

But world number three team Lee and Wang were too strong, claiming gold after knocking off the number one and two teams along the way to the final.

Malaysia's Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik took bronze.

Taiwan could claim another gold, in women's singles, after world number one Tai Tzu-ying overcame India's P.V. Sindhu in the semi-finals.

Tai made short work of the world champion, beating her 21-18, 21-12 to set up a final showdown with China's Chen Yufei.

"I think I did pretty well today," said Tai. "I didn't make many mistakes, so I didn't feel so much pressure."

Sindhu was aiming to go one better than the silver she won at Rio 2016, but she still has a chance to claim bronze against China's He Bingjiao on Sunday.

"It's sad that I couldn't go to the final," said Sindhu.

"I'm sure a lot of people from India supported me and showed me their love. It just wasn't my day."

I'm still a kid

In men's singles, Denmark's world number two Viktor Axelsen cruised into the semi-finals, but compatriot Anders Antonsen was unable to join him.

Axelsen beat China's Shi Yuqi 21-13, 21-13 to set up a clash with Guatemalan world number 59 Kevin Cordon, who kept his fairytale run going with a 21-13, 21-18 win over South Korea's Heo Kwang-hee.

But Antonsen stumbled in his quarter-final against Indonesia's Anthony Sinisuka Ginting.

Ginting will face China's Chen Long in the final four, after the defending champion beat Taiwan's world number four Chou Tien-chen.

Axelsen was all business against Shi, completing the match in just 41 minutes.

"Making it look quite comfortable and the feeling you have on court are two different things," said Axelsen, tournament favourite after world number one Kento Momota suffered a shock early exit.

World number three Antonsen clawed his way back after losing the first game against Ginting, but was unable to last the pace.

"Right now it hurts, it hurts really bad. I have to deal with that pain in the next few weeks," said Antonsen.

Cordon edged a step closer to winning Guatemala's second-ever Olympic medal with his win over Heo, who knocked out Momota in the group stage.

The 34-year-old journeyman crumpled to the ground in disbelief after hitting the match-winning point, then lay sobbing on court.

"I'm still a kid, playing like a kid, having fun, trying to do my best," said Cordon.

"Can you believe that I'm in a semi-final right now? This feeling is just amazing."

In women's doubles Indonesia's Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu will play China's Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan in the final.