China’s Chen Long wins badminton singles bronze
LONDON — Lee Hyun-il of South Korea lost the badminton bronze-medal playoff in a second straight Olympic Games on Sunday, and accepted his fate with a calm resignation.
Lee’s hopes were dashed, as in the Beijing Games, by another 22-year-old China has groomed to succeed the great Lin Dan.
The lanky, spiky-haired Chen Long won 21-15, 15-21, 21-15 in 80 minutes of mainly feathery net play and teasing drops.
Four years ago in Beijing, Lee lost to Chen Jin then retired. But South Korean officials persuaded him to play again to help the undermanned 2010 Thomas Cup team.
“I just challenged myself again to try to get a medal this time,” Lee said. “I didn’t achieve my aim but it has happened and I cannot do anything to change it.
“I tried my best and I played as well as I can so I don’t have any regrets about the match. I now feel relieved it is all over.”
Ranked No. 1 before his first Olympics in Athens, Lee proved he still had the touch with a stunning return to the top 10 by the start of this year. He beat everyone but his old rivals Lin and Lee Chong Wei, who met for the gold medal late Sunday.
This week Lee got his revenge on Chen Jin by eliminating him in the quarterfinals, but he was overwhelmed by Lin in the semifinals.
Chen Long hasn’t had the results he enjoyed at the end of last year when he won three successive Super Series titles with two wins over Chong Wei. His main success was helping China beat Lee’s South Korea in the Thomas Cup final.
Chen broke away in their first game on Sunday with a six-point spurt for 17-9. Lee, renowned for his defense and cross-court play, led 8-1 in the second but only 11-10 by the mid-game break. He held on though to force a third game. Chen, better attuned to Lee’s net trickery, bolted in the third game and from 16-11 never looked like being caught.
“I am happy even though I didn’t manage to get to the (final),” Chen said. I did manage to do what I came here to do. I hope I will be even better in the future.”