Ning defends badminton title

In a Beijing derby, Zhang Ning won the women's singles gold, beating team mate Xie Xingfang in three sets.

updated: August 22, 2008 09:10 IST
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Defending champion Zhang Ning of China won the gold medal in women's singles in the Olympic badminton tournament Saturday, defeating teammate Xie Xingfang in three sets.

The second-seeded Zhang defeated No.1 Xie 21-12, 10-21, 21-18 to defend the title she won four years ago in Athens.

Zhang dropped to her knees and thrust both arms in the air when she won the match with a drop shot that Xie returned into the net.

Maria Kristin Yulianti of Indonesia won the bronze medal, defeating Lu Lan of China 11-21, 21-13, 21-15.

It was China's second gold medal of the Olympic badminton tournament. On Friday, Du Jing and Yu Yang won gold in women's doubles.

China won three out of five gold medals in Athens and is looking to better that mark here.

Zhang took a 19-17 lead in the third game with a smash down the line that Xie couldn't reach. A drop shot at the net gave Zhang match point.

Xie wasn't herself in the first game but quickly recovered, taking a 5-0 lead in the second game. She looked poised for a comeback after winning the second game but Zhang took an 11-6 lead at the break in the final game and held on.

Xie tied the game 16-all but that was as close as she would get.

The 33-year-old Zhang is playing in what likely will be her last Olympics.

China coach Li Yongbo took a risk selecting Zhang over 2007 world champion Zhu Lin.

Zhu is ranked No. 3 in the world while Zhang is ranked only at No.7 due to her absence from key tournaments this year because of injury.

Xie had to settle for the silver. Her boyfriend Lin Dan will meet Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei in the men's final on Saturday.

Yulianti prevented a China sweep of the podium defeating Lu for the bronze medal.

After dropping the first game, unseeded Yulianti recovered for an 11-21, 21-13, 21-15 win over Lu to give Indonesia its first medal of the Olympic badminton tournament.

Leading 9-8, Yulianti went on a nine-point run in the third game to take a 18-8 lead. She won the match when Lu's cross-court return off a smash went out.

South Korea's Lee Jae-jin and Hwang Ji-man won the bronze medal in men's doubles, defeating Denmark's Lars Paaske and Jonas.