Sun, 03 Dec 2023

HANGZHOU, Oct. 1 (Xinhua) -- Defending champions China staged an epic comeback at the Hangzhou Asian Games on Sunday, bouncing back from 0-2 down to claim the badminton men's team gold with a 3-2 victory over India.

Li Shifeng saved China from the brink of a defeat after crushing Srikanth Nammalwar Kidambi in straight games after India had taken a 2-0 lead.

The 23-year-old took an intense first game 24-22, and then clinched his 21-9 win in quick succession.

"Pressure? I'm not thinking about it that much, I'm just thinking about playing point by point," Li said.

"The only thing I can do is to play full to my energy," he added.

Li's victory cleared away the shadow brought about by the losses of Shi Yuqi and Liang Weikeng/Wang Chang. Shi, China's first-choice men's singles player at two consecutive Asiads, lost to Lakshya Sen 22-20, 14-21, 21-18, and young pair Liang and Wang were beaten by Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty 21-15, 21-18.

To the delight of the home crowd, Liu Yuchen and Ou Xuanyi won their match 21-6, 21-15 to restore parity at 2-2 for China.

Weng Hongyang, China's third singles player, who had not hitherto made an appearance in Hangzhou, showed his strength to dominate Mithun Manjunath 14-1 in the early stages of the second game, before winning the deciding match 21-12, 21-4 to secure the host nation's epic victory on China's National Day.

"Thanks to the fans for cheering for our country first, and for cheering for me second," Li commented.

Earlier on Sunday, South Korea whitewashed China to claim its first women's team title since the 1994 Hiroshima Asiad, while China matched its second place finish from the 2018 Asiad.

World No. 1 An Se-young smashed Olympic champion Chen Yufei 21-12, 21-13, before Lee So-hee/Baek Ha-na and Kim Ga-eun both triumphed in their respective matches in straight games.

South Korea coach Kim Hak-kyun stated that the gold medal was precious as his team has a long rivalry with China.

"This is due to the determination, mindset, mentality and unity of our players," said Kim.

South Korea did not win a gold medal in Jakarta in 2018, but they were in good form ahead of the Hangzhou Asiad, having won three titles at the recent World Championships.

"Our players are still improving, and our goal is not only in Asia, but also in the Olympics," Kim added.

The singles and doubles events will take place from October 2 to 7.

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