Zhang Ning wins the Olympic badminton women's singles final 

Updated: 2008-08-16 13:31


Defending champion Zhang Ning, at the age of 33, won the gold medal of badminton women's singles here on Saturday at the Beijing Olympic Games.

Zhang Ning of China celebrates after defeating Maria Kristin Yulianti of Indonesia in the women's singles semi-final badminton match of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, at the Beijing University of Technology Gymnasium in Beijing, on August 15, 2008.  Zhangbeat her compatriot Xie Xingfang in an all-Chinese final. [Agencies]

Zhang won the title by beating the world No. 1 and her teammate Xie Xingfang 21-12, 10-21, 21-18.

It is a duel of will and courage instead of skills as both were on the verge of exhaustion following days of fierce fights against the world's top players.

Zhang intensified attacks while Xie made wrong judgments after the two reached 5-5 in the first game, ending the first game 21-12. Xie revenged in the second game and achieved a good start at 5-0. She had since taking the lead until the game ended.

In the decisive game, both used rackets to support the bodies amid intervals of the competition, which was a sign of limits of physical energy. They were 16-16 at one time, but Zhang was more persistent afterwards.

Zhang burst into tears as the last returning shuttlecock from Xie touched the net and fell to the ground of Xie's half.

"I thought once that I might not make it when Xie was keeping up with me in the third game. I was so tired," said Zhang. She said earlier that she wanted to have a second Olympic gold. "So I can have some sweet memories for myself."

"Zhang and Xie presented the world a most wonderful match," said Li Yongbo, head coach of the Chinese national badminton team.

"It is a really a miracle for Zhang Ning to retain the Olympic gold. Her entrance to the Beijing Olympic Games was even in doubt two months ago," Li said. "Maybe this is the beauty of Olympiad." 

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