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China Nets 3 Titles at Badminton Open

China secured three gold medals at the 2004 China Open Badminton Championship, which ended yesterday in Guangzhou.

Olympic women's doubles champions Yang Wei and Zhang Jiewen won the country's first gold in the tournament by beating another Chinese duo, Zhao Tingting and Wei Yili, 15-14 and 15-12.

China grabbed every spot in the women's doubles semi-finals, with Du Jing and Yu Yang and Olympic champions Gao Ling and Huang Sui coming joint third.

"I'm satisfied with the results although we have one less title than last year," Chinese head coach Li Yongbo said. "Our players have been short of regular training since the Athens Games."

In singles action, top seed Lin Dan edged out teammate Bao Chunlai in consecutive sets to take the final 15-11 and 15-10 for the men's singles gold.

On the women's side, young Chinese shuttler Xie Xingfang beat Hong Kong's Wang Chen in a nail-biting final 5-11, 11-3 and 11-4.

But China's second-seeded mixed doubles Chen Qiqiu and Zhao Tingting had to settle for silver after losing to Danish duo Jens Eriksen and Mette Schjoldager 13-15, 15-13, 8-15.

In the men's doubles, Indonesia's Candra Wijaya and Budiarto won gold after Malaysians Chew Choon Eng and Choong Tan Fook resigned from the final due to unexpected illness.

China also showcased future talent as three of its teenagers surged into the men's singles quarterfinals and 17-year-old Gong Weijie ousted world No. 2 Peter Gade of Denmark.

Lin Dan, the 21-year-old champion, already felt the heat from his younger teammates. "I have felt pressured since the Athens Olympic Games, and I worked even harder after that."

Lin made a shocking first-round exit in Athens where he was widely recognized as hottest title-contender. "Younger guys are catching up very soon and that also pushes me to keep advancing," he said.

South Korean head coach Kim Jong Soo also thought highly of China's youngsters and their prospects in the Beijing Olympic Games.

"China is and definitely will be incomparable in men's and women 's singles, and women's doubles of course. I think other countries can only compete with them in men's doubles and mixed doubles."

(China Daily and Xinhua News Agency November 15, 2004)

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