By Richa Naidu
TOKYO (Reuters) – Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen won the Olympic gold in men’s singles on Monday, toppling China’s Chen Long who won the title at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Axelsen and Chen, two of the world’s most brutal smashers, ended their game 21-15 21-12 after nearly an hour of flash fire and spellbinding rallies. Afterwards, Chen kissed and spoke in Chinese with Axelsen, who was still sobbing when he left the court.
“He told me I deserved it, and my performance here was excellent. And I said “Thank you very much and he’s been a great inspiration to me,” said Axelsen, who had just hung up after a call with Frederik, the Crown Prince of Denmark.
Indonesian Anthony Sinisuka Ginting defeated Kevin Cordon of Guatemala for the bronze medal 21-11 21-13, dashing his hopes of winning his country’s second Olympic medal.
With Chen’s silver, China won six badminton medals in Tokyo, more than any other country: a gold and silver medal in mixed doubles, a gold in women’s singles, a medal of silver in men’s doubles, a silver in women’s doubles and now a silver in men’s singles.
While the loot is not as big as it was in London when China won all five gold medals up for grabs, it did better than the two gold medals and one bronze medal won in Rio, their lowest. level at the Olympics.
Earlier, world number six women’s doubles pair Greysia Polii and Indonesia’s Apriyani Rahayu won the Olympic gold, making their way to victory as loud spectators chanted and waved large national flags.
They beat Chinese Chen Qing Chen and Jia Yi Fan 21-19 21-15 to cheers from a handful of socially distant Indonesian team members and support staff who echoed through the Musashino Forest Sport Plaza , almost empty of Tokyo.
The victory was well deserved. At one point, Polii hit the shuttlecock so hard that a string on her racquet snapped and she had to rush to swap it for another while the tip was still in play.
Indonesia have never won a gold medal in women’s doubles, an event in which China has already excelled.
“People said, ‘You’re not going to get there because Indonesia doesn’t have a history in women’s doubles,” said Polii, 33, in tears, whose Olympic dream began ago. two decades.
“Here I am now. “
Polii and Rahayu huddled together after the victory, singing the national anthem under their masks as the Indonesian flag was hoisted. In a moment of touching camaraderie, they invited the silver and bronze medalists to step onto the podium for a photo.
(Reporting by Richa Naidu; Editing by Himani Sarkar, Ken Ferris and Hugh Lawson)