Lin Dan wins at badminton worlds
China's Lin Dan captured the world title for a fourth time on Sunday, surviving two match points before beating old foe and world number one Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia 20-22 21-14 23-21 in an exciting final at the Wembley Arena.
It was more heartache for Chong Wei who had lost heavily to Lin in the 2008 Olympic final in Beijing.
Although the Malaysian extracted some revenge in March, beating Lin in the All England Championships in Birmingham, he had to play second fiddle again and their head-to-head record now stands at 16-8 in favour of the Chinese.
Lin's victory, cheered to the echo by a large and noisy Chinese following in the London arena which will host next year's Olympic event, came at the end of an exhausting 81-minute tussle.
Amid emotional scenes, the winner raced to the crowd, threw his shirt into the seating and hugged his delighted coaches.
Subdued Chong Wei, left to ponder another defeat on a major stage, politely applauded his fans before exiting.
The Malaysian later suffered severe cramp and left the arena to rest at his hotel.
"It was an honour to play in such a great match but I am obviously disappointed that I couldn't quite get over the finish-line," he said.
"This has been my best world championships to date and I am looking forward to coming back to Wembley next year for the Olympics."
Lin told reporters: "The third game was really emotional. I had to fight hard. On the match points I was just hoping he would make a mistake."
Malaysian singles coach Tay Seu Bock said: "(Chong Wei) missed out on the two match points because at the end of the game he still dared to gamble on his strokes but mentally Lin Dan was a little stronger."
Malaysia have never won a badminton title in any of the five disciplines since the inception of the championships in 1977 but for a while it looked like the sequence might finally be broken.
Chong Wei clinched the first game despite Lin saving four game points from 20-16 down and the Malaysian then led 3-0 in the second.
But once Lin found his stride it always looked as if he could turn the tables and Chong Wei did not help his cause with four or five misjudged 'leaves'.
There were rarely more than a couple of points in it in an incredibly tense third game but the world number one looked to at last to be on the verge of his first world title at the age of 28.
But brave Lin survived match point at 19-20 after an error by his opponent and again at 20-21. When Chong Wei netted on Lin's first match point, the Malaysian dream was over to the huge disappointment of a large following in the arena.
Lin, winner previously in 2006, 2007 and 2009 but beaten in the quarter-finals last year, was reluctant to discuss next year's Olympics.
The Chinese second seed quipped: "I want to go sightseeing now. I have orders to go shopping for clothes for my wife and friends while I am here."
For the second year running, China swept all five titles.
Wang Yihan captured the women's singles, overcoming gallant Taiwanese Cheng Shao Chieh 21-15 21-10 and Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng won the men's doubles for the fourth time, ousting South Korea's Ko-Sung-hyun and Yoo Yeon-seong 24-22 21-16
The women's doubles went to Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang who beat compatriots Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei 22-20 21-11. Zhao had better luck in the mixed with partner Zhang Nan, the pair ending the fine run of unseeded British duo Chris Adcock and Imogen Bankier 21-15 21-7.
Lin Dan shattered Lee Chong Wei’s dream of becoming Malaysia’s first world champion