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August 2, 2021

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Chen, Gong capture gold in Tokyo

In a fight to the death with women’s singles world No. 1 Tai Tzu-ying of Chinese Taipei, Chen Yufei yesterday won China its second badminton gold medal at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Chen, who ranks No. 2, beat Tai 21-18 19-21 21-18 with well-angled smashes, clever feints and a feather-light net-game. The match, full of hypnotic rallies, came close several times, keeping onlookers on the edge of their seats.

“I imagined getting the gold medal and this was very hard,” said a breathless Chen, 23, adding that she couldn’t remember the last shot of the match.

Fans of Tai’s around the world have desperately wanted her to win a gold at the Olympics, having watched her take down some of the best for years but not medaling at the Games.

She has hinted in the past that she may retire after Tokyo despite being only 27.

“I’ve been playing badminton for half my life so I’m just thinking about the rest,” Tai said.

India’s PV Sindhu followed up her silver from 2016 with a singles bronze, paying tribute to her fans after beating China’s He Bingjiao 21-13 21-15.

“A medal for the country, and at the Olympics is not so easy,” an emotional Sindhu said. “A lot of Indian fans showed me that love and support and I’m very, very thankful to them.”

Earlier in the men’s, Kevin Cordon’s fairytale run in the singles came to an end in the semifinals when the 59th-ranked Guatemalan was knocked out 18-21, 11-21 by world No. 2 Viktor Axelsen of Denmark.

China’s Chen Long, the champion from the 2016 Rio Games, also advanced to the final after beating Indonesia’s Anthony Sinisuka Ginting 21-16 21-11

“I hope to be able to express the best of myself tomorrow,” Chen said ahead of today’s final.

Earlier in athletics, Gong Lijiao won the women’s shot put gold in a personal best 20.58 meters under blistering conditions at the Olympic Stadium as the United States’ Raven Saunders picked up silver and New Zealand’s 36-year-old Valerie Adams claimed bronze.

Gong, the winner of 2017 and 2019 world championships, showed no loss of form as she secured her first Olympic gold in her fourth Games, powered by all five of her legal throws exceeding Saunders’ best mark of 19.79 meters.

The top-ranked 32-year-old, who previously won silver in London and bronze in Beijing but missed out on the podium in Rio 2016, unleashed a personal best of 20.53 on her fifth attempt before bettering it on her sixth, letting out a roar as she retained her claim as the sport’s best.

“I think all my efforts were really worth it,” said Gong, adding she already had another benchmark on her mind. “This is my 21st year that I have been training in shot put, I really think I can break the 21-meter (mark). I didn’t do it today, but it’s still very exciting and I’m very happy to win this campaign.”


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