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Badminton Dream Team Won "Miraculous" Victory

It was called a "historical" victory in 1994 when Brazil football team was crowned for the fourth time in Italy in World Cup's over 70 years' history. If so, how could you measure China's fourth successive Sudirman Cup champion in just six years?

"It's a miracle," Chinese head coach Li Yongbo said after China beat Indonesia 3-1 to win the trophy in Seville on Saturday.

But the miraculous feat was achieved under "unprecedentedly difficult circumstances." Most of the veterans who competed in the last Sudirman Cup in Copenhagen two years ago retired after the Olympic Games, including Olympic champions Ge Fei and Gu Jun, Chinese men's and women's number one Sun Jun and Ye Zhaoying, leaving China to pin their hopes on the first timers.

"Other title contenders Denmark, Indonesia and South Korea all maintained their line-up for the Sydney Olympics," Li said. "You can imagine how difficult it is to defend our champion."

However, youth eventually prevailed over experience. After 22-year-old Cup debutante Chen Hong earned China a 2-1 lead after fighting off ferocious challenge to beat Hendrawan in the men's singles, everybody knows China will win the tie 3-1.

Chen, the beaten finalist in the All England championships early this year, jumped to an 8-2 advantage in the first set, but faded after that and saw his lead evaporate with world 15th-ranked Hendrawan pulling it even at 9-9.

But Chen began to play a more physical game with the 29-year-old rival and won 15-12 after exchanging service with the Indonesia for nearly 10 times leading 14-12.

The second set was more dramatic when Hendrawan staged a brave comeback trailing 10-5 and took the set 15-13 in 25 minutes. But Chen controlled the third totally and won 15-10.

"Chen's confidence has been boosted after the semifinal and group matches," Li said. "His victory is the most crucial one today."

But it was the 23-year-old Olympic champion Gong Zhichao that sealed China's 3-1 win in the women's singles. Gong, who smashed world number one Camilla Martin of Denmark 15-1, 15-0 on Friday, crushed Yuli Marfuah ruthlessly 11-2, 11-5 in just 22 minutes.

Li had expected the tie could be decided by the mixed doubles because the men's doubles and singles were Indonesia's events. The two sides were very likely to share the first four events. But the tie was not dragged to that stage.

Indonesia opened a 1-0 lead after Olympic champion Tony Gunawan and Candra Wijaya beat Zhang Jun and Zhang Wei 15-13, 15-1. But China, who edged out Denmark 3-2 in the semifinal on Friday, levelled the score at 1-1 as Gao Ling and Huang Sui easily beat Deyana Lomban and Etty Tantri 15-1, 15-2.

"I believe the trophy will be kept in our hands in the next two Sudirman Cup championships," Li said soon after lifting babminton's most glorious team trophy on the top podium. "We will be get stronger and the young players will grow mature."

"As for today's competition, all our shuttlers played smartly," Li said. "That's one of the secrets of creating the miracle."

The other one?

"We have chosen the right person for the right match," He said.

(People's Daily 06/04/2001)

In This Series

The Story of A Gold Medal

Badminton: More Than One Gold



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