Olympics: Wang, Huang stun top seeds to win all-China badminton mixed doubles final

TOKYO (AFP) – China’s Wang Yilyu and Huang Dongping upset the odds to win Olympic badminton mixed doubles gold on Friday (July 30), scoring a rare victory over their highly fancied compatriots Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong.

The two pairs had met 15 times before the Tokyo final, with Zheng and Huang – twice world champions and the top-ranked team – winning on 13 occasions.

But Wang and Huang edged a tight match 21-17, 17-21, 21-19 to secure the gold.

“My mind went blank after the final point – it still hasn’t sunk in yet,” said Wang.

“I had to tell myself, ‘if you want to win this gold medal, first you have to win over yourself’.”

The victory gave China its fourth Olympic gold in mixed doubles, putting the nation back on top after Indonesia’s Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir had won the title at the 2016 Rio Games.

But Wang and Huang had to come through a tense final game to claim the prize.

“It was a great match and everyone was at their best, mentally, physically and tactically,” said Huang.

“We won the first game and they won the second game – we were trying to figure out each other’s minds.”

Zheng and Huang went into the competition as the favourites, but they were unable to deliver when it mattered.

“It was a stunning match to watch,” said Zheng. “Of course we have some regrets, but our opponents played very well.”

Japan’s Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino won bronze, beating Hong Kong’s Tang Chun-man and Tse Ying-suet 21-17, 23-21.

“We were under so much pressure and there were so many expectations,” said Watanabe. “I tried to enjoy it, but there were so many times I thought I was going to collapse under the pressure or run away from it.”

The medal was Japan’s first in mixed doubles, and Watanabe became the first Japanese man to win an Olympic badminton medal.

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“I feel very humble and happy that my name will go down in history,” he said.

“We wanted to win gold, but I think this can make a small contribution to Japanese badminton.”

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