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Axelsen dethrones Chen Long for men’s singles badminton gold

With Chen’s silver, China has swept six badminton medals at Tokyo, more than any other country: gold and silver in mixed doubles, gold in women’s singles, silver in men’s doubles, silver in women’s doubles and silver in men’s singles.

Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen swept to the men’s singles Olympic gold medal on Monday, unseating Chen Long of China, who claimed the title at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Axelsen and Chen, two of the world’s most brutal smashers, ended their match 21-15, 21-12 after nearly an hour of flash shots and mesmerising rallies.

Afterwards, Chen embraced and spoke in Chinese with Axelsen, who was still sobbing when he left the court.

“He told me that I deserved it, and my performance here has been great. And I said ‘Thank you so much and that he has been a big inspiration to me,” said Axelsen, who had just hung up from a call with Frederik, the crown prince of Denmark.

Indonesia’s Anthony Sinisuka Ginting beat Kevin Cordon of Guatemala for the bronze medal 21-11, 21-13, crushing his hopes of winning his country its second ever Olympic medal.

With Chen’s silver, China has swept six badminton medals at Tokyo, more than any other country: a gold and silver in mixed doubles, a gold in women’s singles, a silver in men’s doubles, a silver in women’s doubles and, now, a silver in men’s singles.

While the haul isn’t as big as it was in London when China won all five golds up for grabs, they have done better than the two golds and one bronze medal they scored at Rio, their lowest at an Olympics.

Earlier, world number six women’s doubles pair Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu of Indonesia won the Olympic gold medal, smashing their way to victory as raucous onlookers chanted and waved large national flags.

They beat China’s Chen Qing Chen and Jia Yi Fan 21-19, 21-15 to cries of encouragement from a handful of socially distanced Indonesian team members and support staff that echoed through Tokyo’s mostly empty Musashino Forest Sport Plaza.

The win was well-deserved. At one stage, Polii hit the shuttlecock so hard that a string on her racket broke and she had to dash off to swap it for another one while the point was still in play.

Indonesia have never won a gold medal in women’s doubles, an event China has previously excelled in.

“People said, ‘You’re not going to make it because Indonesia doesn’t have a history in women’s doubles,” said a crying Polii, 33, whose Olympic dream began two decades ago.

“Here I am now.”

Polii and Rahayu clutched each other after the win, singing the national anthem underneath their masks as the Indonesian flag was hoisted. In a moment of touching camaraderie, they invited the silver and bronze medallists to squeeze onto the podium for a picture.

  • TOKYO OLYMPICS

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