Badminton: Li triumphs in all-Chinese All England final
BIRMINGHAM - China’s Li Shi Feng recorded the biggest win of his career Sunday as he defeated compatriot Shi Yu Qi in the men’s singles final of the All England Open to emulate hero Lin Dan.
The 23-year-old proved too strong for 2018 champion Shi as he won 26-24, 21-5 having come through a marathon three-game semi-final against Denmark’s Anders Antonsen that lasted 95 minutes.
His only previous senior tournament triumph had come at Super 100 level but the success in Birmingham enabled Li to call himself a Super 1000 champion.
It also meant he’d won the oldest of badminton’s major events, with the All England – for many years an unofficial world championship – first staged in 1899.
“I am very excited,” said Li. “I don’t really have the words to express my feeling for the moment.
“It is a huge payback for all the hard work I’ve put in. Although I’ve got the All England title, I would like to aim from more titles.”
China’s now retired Lin Dan, widely regarded as the greatest badminton player of all time, won two Olympic gold medals, five world titles and six All England crowns in a stellar career
“Lin Dan has been my idol from a very young age,” said Li. “He’s a lot of players’ idol.”
In the women’s event, world number two An Se-Young became the first Korean singles player to win an All England title in 27 years with a thrilling victory over Olympic champion Chen Yufei.
An, 21, who lost to Akane Yamaguchi in last year’s final, won a gruelling contest 21-17, 10-21, 21-19 in an hour and 15 minutes.
The third game was all square at 17-17 when An won the next three points before sealing victory at the the third time of asking.
Men’s doubles top-seeds Fajar Alfian and Muhammad Rian Ardianto defeated fellow Indonesians Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan – ‘the Daddies’ – 21-17, 21-14 with Ahsan injuring his left knee just before match point.
Alfian and Ardianto were the fourth different All England men’s doubles champions from Indonesia in six years.
In the women’s doubles, Olympic bronze medallists Kim So-yeong and Kong Hee-yong overwhelmed fellow Korean duo Baek Ha-na and Lee So-hee 21-5, 21-12.
Mixed doubles world champions Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong defeated the Korean pair of Seo Seung-jae and Chae Yu-jung 21-16, 16-21, 21-12 as the Chinese duo regained an All England title they won in 2019. - AFP
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