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Hidayat, Ning take badminton golds

August 21, 2004 20:52 IST
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Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia stormed to the men's singles gold medal in Olympic badminton on Saturday, overpowering Shon Seung-moof South Korea 15-8, 15-7.

Taufiq HidayatHidayat sank to his knees and covered his face with his hands after winning the final with a strong forehand smash.

Roared on by hundreds of Indonesian supporters whose cheers filled the Goudi Olympic Hall, Hidayat recovered from a 6-0 deficit to sweep Shon aside in the first game.

The second game followed a similar pattern, Hidayat going 3-0 down before putting 12 points on the board without reply.

Indonesia's Soni Dwi Kuncoro took bronze earlier in the day by defeating Boonsak Ponsana of Thailand 15-11, 17-16.

Ahead of the Games, China had been strongly fancied to win the title but their three players, including top seed Lin Dan, made early exits.

China's Zhang Ning takes women's gold

Zhang Ning won China's first gold medal in the Olympic badminton tournament with a gutsy fightback against Indonesian-born Mia Audina of the Netherlands in the women's singles.

Zhang NingAfter losing a jittery opening game and then twice failing to put away match points at 10-5, Zhang darted to the net to smash a sharply angled shot to clinch an 8-11, 11-6, 11-7 victory.

The world champion hurled her racket high into the air, burst into tears and raced around the court to fling herself into the arms of her jubilant coach as Audina bowed her head in defeat.

"It's a great feeling to get a gold medal at the age of 29," said the winner, her feat hailed by bronze medal-winning team mate Zhou Mi as nothing short of a miracle.

The gold was also a much-needed boost for the team after China failed to get a single player, including world number one and top seed Lin Dan, through to the men's singles semi-finals.

"Today's gold is the first in the badminton competition and I believe this will be good for our whole team and encourage our colleagues to try and win the mixed doubles and women's doubles," said Zhang.

Audina, who played for Indonesia before marrying a Dutch gospel singer and moving to Europe, could still take comfort in the second silver of her Olympic career and a first ever medal for the Dutch in badminton.

She finished runner-up for Indonesia as a 16-year-old prodigy at the 1996 Atlanta Games and recalled beating Zhang a decade ago in cup competition.

But she struggled to keep her emotions in check, questioning a line call in the first game and being shown a yellow card -- the first she could remember in 10 years -- at match point when she clearly felt wronged.

"I did my best and there was a 50-50 chance but today she was better than me," Audina said, cheered by a strong Dutch contingent that stamped and roared as time and again she took the game to Zhang with breathtaking returns.

"I was in God's hands and he knows what's best for me.

"I almost don't remember how it felt in Atlanta, actually, it was quite a long time ago," she said of her first silver. "But in Atlanta I was the underdog, nobody expected me to get a medal.

"It's a good feeling. I have given a silver to Indonesia and also to Holland ... that's quite special I think."

China's Zhou Mi took the bronze medal after beating compatriot and world number one Gong Ruina 11-2, 8-11, 11-6 in an earlier playoff.

Jiewen and Wei take women's doubles gold

Top seeds Zhang Jiewen and Yang Wei of China won the women's doubles gold, defeating compatriots Huang Sui and Gao Ling in the final.

Zhang and Yang lost the first game 7-15 but won the next two 15-4 15-8 to claim China's third badminton gold at the Athens Games.

In an match with several long rallies which drew audible gasps from the crowd, the top-seeded pair moved up a gear after their slow start to dominate the second game.

They then raced to a 7-0 lead in the third which laid the foundations for victory.

Zhang won the match point with a strong smash at the end of an exciting rally.

Ra Kyung-min and Lee Kyung-won of South Korea took bronze earlier in the day by beating Zhao Tingting and Wei Yili of China 10-15 15-9 15-7.

In the day's other bronze medal play-off, Indonesia's Soni Dwi Kuncoro defeated Boonsak Ponsana of Thailand 15-11, 17-16 in the men's singles.

Kuncoro won the first game of his match with a killer smash after staging a fightback from 5-10 down. He fell to the ground in delight after Ponsana's final shot landed out to secure victory in a tense closing phase of the second game.

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