China's CHEN Yu Fei wins women's badminton singles gold

Thrilling end to women's badminton singles as China's CHEN Yu Fei wins the title after close match with Chinese Taipei's TAI Tzu-Ying

Picture by 2021 Getty Images

China’s CHEN Yu Fei beat world number one Chinese Taipei’s TAI Tzu-Ying in a thrilling two sets to one final of the women’s badminton singles at Tokyo 2020.

The top two seeds fought hard for 81-minutes to claim the title. Chen, 23, took the first set and Tai, 27, the second and it all went down to a tense final game at the Musashino Forest Sport Plaza on 1 August.

Chen, a World Championship medallist who was making her Olympic debut, went up 10-3 but Tai dug in and clawed back points but was still behind 18-15. The Chinese athlete screamed when she got the 19th point, relieved to put more distance between them, but Tai came back again, and it was soon 19-17. It came down to which athlete could hold their nerve the longest. At 20-17 Tai got one back but Chen closed out the match at 21-18. By now both athletes were exhausted.

Tai, who got into the last 16 in Rio 2016, had hoped to stamp her country’s dominance on the sport after her Chinese Taipei’s compatriots WANG Chi-Lin and LEE Yang overpowered China’s LI Jun Hui and LIU Yu Chen in the men’s doubles badminton final the day before.

World champion and Rio 2016 silver medallist India’s Pusarla took home the bronze after beating China’s HE Bing Jao by two sets: 21-13, 21-15.

“I’m very happy, it’s unbelievable," said Chen after the gruelling match. "I’ve thought about this, dreamed about this, but I knew that to achieve it is not easy. I don’t remember what happened after the winning point. I don’t even remember what I did, I was just blank."

On winning silver, Tai said she was pleased with her performance, but admitted she had made too many mistakes in the third game: “I think I did pretty well today, but my opponent did even better. I made too many mistakes in the third game. It’s an old problem of mine, that’s a pity, that was unnecessary. I tried hard to catch up, but I had just made too many mistakes before.”

On whether she will retire after Tokyo 2020, she added: “I will play until the end of this year. Whatever comes after that, I’ll think about it. Paris 2024 feels very far away now. I’ve been playing for half my life, and I just want to have a good rest first.”

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