Chen puts China back on top in women's badminton

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China missed the podium entirely in badminton women's singles at the 2016 Rio Games, but Chen Yufei put them right back on top with a tight win in Sunday's final.

Chen beat Taiwan's world number one Tai Tzu-ying 21-18, 19-21, 21-18 to return the title to China, giving the badminton powerhouse its 20th Olympic gold medal in the sport.

"I'm extremely happy to extend the honour," said Chen, who sank to her knees and roared to the rafters when Tai scuffed a shot into the net to end a marathon final rally.

"The Chinese women's badminton team has had problems since 2016. But today I stood on top of the podium, and this is recognition of China's women's team."

Taiwan had bagged its first ever Olympic badminton medal the previous night, claiming gold in the men's doubles.

But world number two Chen ensured there would be no repeat in women's singles, nipping Tai's comeback attempt in the bud.

"I lost the second game and that was a shame because I had the lead," said Chen.

"I was a bit rushed and I made a few mistakes, but going into the third game I told myself to be composed and start from scratch."

Tai said she would consider her future after failing to win the gold.

"This was a goal I set myself," said the 27-year-old.

"I worked hard towards it, and now the competition is over I will take a rest first, and then take it from there."

India's P.V. Sindhu, the silver medallist five years ago in Rio, beat China's He Bingjiao to win bronze.

"I had to had close all my emotions for this one match and just give my all," said Sindhu, the world champion.

In men's singles, Denmark's world number two Viktor Axelsen overcame a nervy start to move into the final, ending Guatemalan underdog Kevin Cordon's unlikely tilt at the title.

World number 59 Cordon has been the surprise package in Tokyo but Axelsen was ultimately too clinical for him, winning their semi-final 21-18, 21-11.

The Dane will face China's defending champion Chen Long in Monday's final, and he was glad to secure a top-two finish after taking bronze in Rio.

"Obviously I want more than just a final -- this is not enough for me," said Axelsen.

"I was so tense and wanted it so badly, so I couldn't even enjoy the game today. In a few hours I'll be really happy and proud, but right now it's just relief."

The two players were meeting for the first time, and Cordon's unorthodox style caused Axelsen some early problems.

"He has a really volatile playing style," said Axelsen.

"He's really aggressive, playing tricky shots and a little bit unusual shots, but with good quality."

Cordon still has a chance to claim Guatemala's second-ever Olympic medal in Monday's bronze playoff against Indonesia's Anthony Sinisuka Ginting.

"I had a chance in the first set," said Cordon, whose run to the semis has captivated his native Guatemala.

"I took a risk to try to play faster than him or try to attack with my smash, but there were some easy mistakes."

Rio champion Chen has the chance to emulate Chinese badminton legend Lin Dan in winning consecutive Olympic titles, after beating Ginting 21-16, 21-11 in the other semi-final.

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