In the women’s event, He Bingjiao upset world junior number one Akane Yamaguchi (JPN), surviving a match point in the second set to win 22-24, 23-21, 21-17 and avenge her defeat to the same opponent in the Junior World Championships last April.
He Bingjiao (centre) is flanked by fellow medallists Akane Yamaguchi (left) and Busanan Ongbamrungphan
China had already secured both gold and silver in the men’s singles, with Shi Yuqi triumphing over Lin Guipu 21-15, 21-19. Busanan Ongbamrungphan (THA) and Anthony Sinisuka Ginting (INA) had claimed the respective women's and men's bronze medals earlier in the day. After receiving her medal, an emotional He joked: “I’m very calm. I don’t know how to describe my feelings. I want to cry yet I want to smile. I was supposed to celebrate at the end but I felt like crying.” A disappointed Yamaguchi said: “This time she was too overwhelming and I felt pressed back by her.”
Men’s gold medallist Shi said: “[Lin] has won more recently. I’ve lost to him numerous times, but winning the first game gave me some confidence. It has to do with my training. I’ve been working on my willpower and stamina.” Lin was more philosophical: “You’re either a team-mate or a rival. It’s a competition so there’s definitely rivalry, but there’s only one gold medal and one winner,” he reflected. “I played well this tournament so this defeat doesn’t undo the good work. He’s always tough. The difference today was maybe I was more anxious and the [70-minute semi-final] yesterday really drained my energy.”
China’s sweep of both singles golds followed a similar feat by Thailand at the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games.
In the mixed doubles, which pitched together athletes from different countries to play as a pair, a shared language and relaxed approach proved crucial as Cheam June Wei (MAS) and Ng Tsz Yau (HKG) won gold.
“This mixed doubles event is fun and is a nice memory,” said Cheam, while silver medallist Lee admitted she was more disappointed by the defeat than she thought she would be. “Before the tournament I thought we had no chance,” she said. “Then we ended up [in the final]. We thought we had a chance but we didn’t expect them to perform so well.”
In the bronze medal match, Sachin Premashan Dias Angoda Vidanalage won Sri Lanka’s first ever Olympic medal outside athletics, partnering women’s singles champion He Bingjiao. The Sri Lankan was delighted to have got the better of two of badminton’s traditional powerhouses. “They are really, really tough opponents,” he said.