JAKARTA: Top seed Chen Long proved unstoppable as he retained the singles crown at the badminton world championships on Sunday, with Lee Chong Wei suffering an agonising fourth straight defeat.
There were also back-to-back championship victories in the women’s singles as world number one Carolina Marin of Spain beat India’s Saina Nehwal to defend her title.
Lee entered the final hungrier than ever for his elusive world title but could not unsettle the Chinese world number one, who stormed to a 21-14, 21-17 victory in just over an hour.
An overjoyed Chen, who has already won four titles in a stellar season this year, wept and kissed the court as his final triumphant smash sailed home.
“Last year I also cried, but this year I maybe cried more,” he said via a translator.
“This was a very difficult tournament to play. Every match was very difficult. Every opponent was very strong. I’m so happy to win this men’s singles, not just for myself but the China team.”
At 12-all Chen turned up the heat with a series of blistering smashes that left Lee trailing.
After being steamrollered 21-14 the Malaysian put up a brief fight early in the second. But Chen refused to yield, taking seven unanswered points and establishing a comfortable lead.
The speed and accuracy which Lee utilised to deadly effect against lesser opponents in the tournament failed to have an impact until later in the second game, when the gap between the two narrowed to 17-15.
But in the end Chen was unrelenting and outmanoeuvred the Malaysian at every turn, ending Lee’s dreams of gold with a smash directly at his feet.
Earlier top-seeded Marin charged to a 21-16, 21-19 win over Nehwal to take home her second successive gold medal.
The Spaniard was brimming with confidence in the first game, pumping her fist and screaming in triumph.
But the Indian shuttler was not intimidated, retaliating early in the second game to take an 11-8 lead.
The pair were neck-and-neck at 18-18 but the European champion proved too strong for Nehwal, the first Indian to reach a world championship final.
The Spaniard burst into tears and collapsed on the court as Nehwal’s final shot sailed out, delivering Marin the title she was not sure she would ever defend.
She nearly missed the world championships entirely after suffering a foot injury just a month ago, and had refused to speculate about her chances of retaining her crown.
“This time was more difficult than the first time,” she said.
Badminton’s governing body later apologised to Marin for an “unfortunate mistake” that saw the wrong national anthem played as the Spaniard took to the winner’s podium.
Indonesia won gold on home soil in the men’s doubles, with Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan defeating Chinese duo Liu Xiaolong and Qiu Zihan 21-17, 21-14 before a raucous home crowd.