Badminton golds for Marin, Fu and Zhang

Spain’s reigning two-time world champion Carolina Marin came from set down to beat India’s Pusarla Sindhu in the women’s badminton singles final at Rio 2016, while China’s Fu Haifeng and Zhang Nan edged a three-set thriller to take the men’s doubles title.

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Famed for her tenacity and aggressive left-handed game, the top-seeded Marin closed out a 19-21 21-12 21-15 victory over the 21-year-old Sindhu, who has excelled on her Olympic debut. “I’m very excited, I don’t know how I’m feeling now, but it is amazing that my dream has come true. I just had to believe in myself,” said Marin, the first non-Asian player to win the Olympic women’s singles title. “It is more than a medal because of everything behind it. I have the best team behind me. They helped me a lot and were amazing.”

Showing no little steel as she faced her biggest test of the competition, the 23-year-old Marin held her nerve when it mattered, charging away in the third set to set up six match points and taking the second with an imperious smash down the line that her opponent did well to get a racquet to.

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The Spaniard expressed her relief on sealing victory, pumping her fists and roaring with delight as she took the acclaim of her flag-waving compatriots in the stands. Sindhu enjoyed plenty of support herself at the Riocentro, and can take great satisfaction from becoming only the second Indian woman to win a badminton medal, after Saina Nehwal, who took bronze in the singles at London 2012.

 “I am really happy,” said the Hyderabadi shuttler. “My ultimate aim and goal was to get a medal at the Olympics. I thought it would be a gold, but never mind: it became a silver. I never thought I would make it here, but it’s been a wonderful week for me overall. I am really happy. I did not expect I would play this brilliantly this week.

Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara won the bronze in a walkover after defending champion Li Xuerui of China was forced to pull out of their medal play-off with injury.

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Fu and Zhang squeeze home

Meanwhile, Fu and Zhang held firm to beat Malaysia’s Goh V Shem and Tan Wee Kiong 16-21 21-11 23-21 in a nailbiting men’s doubles final, with the Chinese saving two match points before converting one of their own in a thrilling finale.

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The nerveless Fu landed the same title with Cai Yun four years ago, while Zhang won the mixed doubles championship in London. Their breathless win gave China their first badminton gold of Rio 2016 and denied Malaysians the chance to secure their country’s first ever Olympic gold medal.

Voicing his feelings afterwards, a relieved Fu said: “I think we were under a lot of pressure playing this match. The Chinese mixed doubles team, women’s singles team, and women doubles teams all lost, and men’s doubles is an event that has not received a lot of attention, but we triumphed all the same. We won the first gold medal for the Chinese badminton team at this Olympic Games so we are excited. It was not an easy game. I want to thank my partner.”

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Great Britain’s Marcus Ellis and Chris Langridge made the bronze theirs after beating China’s Chai Biao and Hong Wei 21-18, 19-21, 21-10 on 18 August.