Rio de Janeiro: Japan’s Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi produced one of the finest three-set comebacks in Olympic memory to win the first badminton Olympic gold medal for Japan on Thursday.
In a match of staggering intensity and stunning plot twists, world No. 1 Matsutomo/Takahashi got off to a sluggish start and lost the first set to Denmark’s Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl 18-21.
The regrouped and recomposed Japanese pair was able to then force a decider when they bounced back to win the second set 21-9.
Despite trailing 16-19 in the third-set, Matsutomo/Takahashi stayed calm and were fighting for every point to keep alive their chances of winning a record Olympic title. On the brink of an astonishing defeat, they staged an amazing comeback at Riocentro Pavilion 4 stadium by reeling off the next 5 consecutive points to clinch the decider and to beat Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl 21-19.
“We actually thought that we would lose the match but we played our best effort, and we are so happy to win the gold medal,” said Matsutomo.
The Danes who ended China’s 20-year reign in the Olympic women’s doubles event by knocking out China’s world No. 2 pair Yu Yang/Tang Yuanting in the semi-finals, were disappointed to let the gold medal slip through their fingers.
“We had our chances, but I know we did the best we could,” said Pedersen.
Meanwhile, China suffered a huge blow in the history of Olympic women’s doubles event when their No. 2 seeds pair Tang Yuanting and Yu Yang succumbed to an 8-21, 17-21 loss to South Korea’s Jung Kyung-Eun and Shin Seung-Chan in the bronze medal contest. This was the first time China has not win a single medal in Olympic women’s doubles event since badminton made its Olympic debut at the 1992 Barcelona Games.