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Tainted women's doubles in badminton ends with China taking gold

CBSSports.com wire reports
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LONDON -- A Chinese team won the Olympic gold medal in badminton. It just wasn't the one most expected.

The scandal-marred women's doubles competition concluded Saturday with Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei defeating Japan's Mizuki Fujii and Reika Kakiiwa 21-10, 25-23 in the final.

Tian and Zhao are the players that inadvertently started off the problems at Wembley Arena by losing a match to a Danish team in the group stage. That set off a wave of trouble that led to the disqualification of four teams, including the favorites from China.

"To be honest we didn't really pay too much attention to it," Zhao said. "We're professional athletes. We concentrated on ourselves."

Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang made up the top-seeded team for the London Games, but they were among eight players disqualified ahead of the quarterfinals for purposefully losing group matches in order to manipulate the pairings for the knockout stages.

Wang and Yu had lost only four matches in two years, but a feeble, deliberate loss in a group match to avoid meeting Tian and Zhao before the final disgraced them and they were kicked out of the tournament by the Badminton World Federation.

China coach Li Yongbo, who shouldered the blame for Wang's and Yu's performance and apologized, congratulated Tian and Zhao for giving the country its fifth straight women's doubles gold medal.

"We should win the gold medals. Even though there was the problem with our first seed pair, these are champions and they were under pressure," he said. "The country and the people will be proud."

Valeria Sorokina and Nina Vislova didn't make it through the group stage of the tournament, but they were placed in the quarterfinals after four teams were disqualified. On Saturday, they won the bronze medal.

"I think we had good luck having the chance to take part in today's competition," Vislova said. "It's a super day for us. We deserved it."

Sorokina and Vislova won their medal by beating Alex Bruce and Michelle Li of Canada 21-9, 21-10. Bruce and Li also had been eliminated and then restored to the competition when two teams from South Korea and one from China and Indonesia were kicked out.

"We did the right thing by forgetting everything that's happened and focusing on ourselves and focusing on the bronze, and everything went well," Sorokina said.

In men's doubles, Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen of Denmark upset top-ranked Chung Jae-sung and Lee Yong-dae of South Korea 17-21, 21-18, 22-20. The Danes next face four-time world champions Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng of China in the Saturday's final.

Cai and Fu, who lost in the final at the 2008 Beijing Games, defeated Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong of Malaysia 21-9, 21-19.

"It would mean so much to us as a pair [to win this time] and so much for the Chinese team," Fu said.

In women's singles, Li Xuerui beat Wang Yihan 21-15, 21-23, 21-17 in an all-Chinese final that left both of them bent over gasping for air at times.

Wang saved two match points in the second game but Li secured the win on her third in the decider. She then tossed her racket and raised her arms, and finally saluted the crowd in Wembley Arena.

Li also beat second-ranked teammate Wang Xin in the semifinals. Li succeeded their coach, Zhang Ning, as Olympic champion.

Earlier, Saina Nehwal became only the second woman from India to medal in the Olympics when Wang Xin of China retired with an injury during their bronze playoff. Wang Xin was leading 21-18, 1-0 when she collapsed a second time with a twisted left knee.

"I had a feeling I was going to medal, just not this way. I wanted to have a good win," Nehwal said. "I was shocked at what happened. I was lucky today."

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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