Gold Coast: At 35, Malaysian badminton superstar Lee Chong Wei is still defying his age and beating the badminton odds. Badminton is a grueling and fast-paced sport that rarely sees shuttlers in their mid-thirties still competing at world-class levels.
Facing the 25-year-old World No. 1 Kidambi Srikanth of India in the Commonwealth Games final on Sunday, Lee’s 19-21 first set loss to Srikanth left badminton fans worried that he would go down to the Indian player twice in a week, after losing to Srikanth 21-17, 21-14 in the mixed team final last Monday.
Lee then bouncing back in a way that was truly surprising to the badminton fans. He avoided lifting too many high shots, tried to seek opportunity for launching attacks resulted by tight net shots, and strengthen the defense at his back-hand baseline section. That strategy that has paid handsome dividends as it made Srikanth very uncomfortable and Lee picked up the second set 21-14.
The former World No. 1 Lee was unstoppable in the decider, stepped up his pace, defense and attacks to overpower the Indian 21-14 to lift his third Commonwealth Games men’s singles gold medal, thus concluded his triumph at Commonwealth Games with one of the celebrated performance of his career.
Rio Olympic bronze medalists, Marcus Ellis/Chris Langridge of England who shocked the defending champions and the No. 1 seeds Goh V Shem/Tan Wee Kiong of Malaysia in the semi-final, secured England’s first men’s badminton doubles title in 40 years by overcoming Indian second seeds Satwik Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty 21-13, 21-16 in the final.
In women’s doubles, Malaysia’s scratch pair Vivian Hoo/Chow Mei Kuan delivered a stunning victory with a crushing 21-12, 21-12 win over No. 3 seeds Lauren Smith/Sarah Walker of England in the final to pick up the seventh gold medal for Malaysia at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Former World No. 1 women’s singles player Saina Nehwal of India was made to fight tooth and nail but showed glimpses of her astonishing best, subduing the Rio Olympic silver medalist and her teammate PV Sindhu 21-18, 23-21 to claim the Commonwealth Games women’s singles title for the second time. Nehwal won the gold medal in the women’s singles badminton event at the 2010 Commonwealth Games held in New Delhi, beating Wong Mew Choo of Malaysia 19–21, 23–21, 21–13.
England’s Chris and Gabby Adcock outlasted compatriots Marcus Ellis/Lauren Smith to defend their Commonwealth Games mixed doubles gold, coming back from losing the first set to beat Ellis/Smith 19-21, 21-17, 21-16.