Wang Zhi Yi and Lee Zii Jia win gold; Sindhu absent from medal ceremony
Unseeded Wang Zhiyi held off an incredible late fight back from world champion Akane Yamaguchi to record a stunning victory in the women’s final of the Asian Badminton Championships on Sunday.
Malaysia’s Lee Zii Jia later claimed the men’s title with a 21-17, 23-21 win over Indonesia’s Jonatan Christie – then ripped off his sweaty top and threw it into the Manila crowd in a gesture of celebration.
China’s Wang, ranked 16th in the world, needed treatment for a back injury but hung on to beat Japanese top seed and defending champion Yamaguchi 15-21, 21-13, 21-19 in 78 minutes of heart-pounding action that had the loud crowd swaying.
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“I think it’s something I couldn’t have imagined because before the competition, everyone, including myself, didn’t think I could achieve these results,” said the 22-year-old. years after winning the biggest title of his young career.
“It was a very difficult match because my opponent is a world-class athlete, but I think I was in the right frame of mind to face her. My goal is to win all the competitions, so hopefully I can follow those better performances, be resolute and work harder.
Like in her semi-final victory on Saturday against South Korean second seed An Se-young, Wang had to recover from the opening match loss.
After leveling the match, the rising Chinese player appeared to be heading for a comfortable victory as she took a 16-5 lead in the decider, before nerves and her finicky back kicked in to give Yamaguchi a life buoy.
The Japanese player used all her experience to find her way back as Wang started to make unforced errors and Yamaguchi leveled at 19-19 after a breathtaking 30-shot exchange.
But Wang, who moments earlier had needed the coach’s attention at the side of the field, mustered reserves of energy and forced Yamaguchi to go long to set up a first championship point.
Another marathon rally followed, but when Yamaguchi scored, Wang collapsed on her back from exhaustion and elation as she became Asian champion for the first time.
The men’s final was a simpler affair with third-seeded Lee mostly in control throughout against fourth-seeded Christie.
Christie fought back in game two but failed to score two game points, with 24-year-old Lee sealing the title on his first championship point when his opponent shot wide on a forehand.
The Indonesian disputed the call but a video review confirmed it and Lee collapsed on his back, before ripping off his top and throwing it into the crowd, followed by his racquet.
On a good day for the badminton superpower, China also won the mixed doubles and women’s doubles crowns.
Sindhu was India’s only medalist, finishing with her second bronze medal at the event. But she was absent from the medal ceremony. Sindhu’s father, PV Ramana, reportedly told PTI that she should return early and had obtained permission from the authorities.
“Nothing like that [skipped the ceremony in protest]she accepted the medal, it was just that she had to rush for a flight home, so she took permission from the authorities,” he said.
“See Sindhu is due to go to the Uber Cup (May 8-15, Bangkok) and there were no direct flights available from Manila to India for tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. If she had reached May 4 , she would have missed a few days of training before the Uber Cup.
Triple gold for China
Here’s a look at the Finals score lines:
The mixed doubles final was an all-Chinese affair that defeated top seeds Zheng Si Wei and Huang Ya Qiong in two quick matches. Chen Qing Chen and Jia Yi Fan also lived up to their bill in women’s doubles by beating Rin Iwanaga and Kie Nakanish in the women’s doubles final.
Another kind of upheaval came in the men’s doubles where Indonesia continued to show their stunning depth. Pramudya Kusumawardana and Yeremia Rambitan, nicknamed “PraYer”, have beaten Tokyo 2020 bronze medalists Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik in consecutive matches. The Malaysians had beaten the Indian pair of Satwik-Chirag in the quarter-finals in a thriller.
With text entries from AFP