ASIAN GAMES: JAPAN'S YONEKURA SHOCKS GONG; WINS GOLD
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December 17, 1998 (NEW SHUTTLENWS) - Japan's Kanako Yonekura scored another
major shocker today at the Asian Games individual badminton medal competition
in Bangkok, Thailand when she defeated the highly seeded Chinese player Gong
Zhichao in the final of the women's singles event 1-11, 11-5 and 11-6 and
captured the gold medal, Japan's first in badminton after a 28-year drought.
Earlier in the competition, Yonekura had also pulled off a great upset when
she beat world champion Ye Zhaoying of China in a quarterfinal match 0-11,
13-10 and 11-9.
In today's championship match, Yonekura was once again overwhelmed in the
opening game. The fleetfooted Gong notched 10 scores and was at game point
before the Japanese player was finally able to get a marker.
In the second game, Yonekura played more patiently, engaging Gong in long
four-corner rallies. Slowly, she wore the Chinese player down. Gong began to
make mistake after mistake and the Japanese player capitalized to win at
Yonekura continued to rally patiently in the decider, combining long clears
with delicate dropshots and tight netshots. Once again, Gong's play became
more and more error-prone, often gifting the Japanese player with precious
In the men's singles final, Dong Jiong, China's 1996 Olympic silver medalist,
gave his best performance in a year when he beat Indonesia's Hendrawan in
three games to take an Asian Games gold medal.
The first game between Dong and Hendrawan was a closely fought affair. The
Indonesian had his tight netshots and jumpsmashes working well. He had worked
into a small 13-10 lead late in the set and had a game point at 14-12. Dong
though was able to pull even and force setting as the Indonesian faded into
erratic play. In the tiebreak, Dong was the steadier player and won at 17-14.
Hendrawan came back strong in the second with aggressive play. He added some
fast driving shot combinations to his favorite netshot-jumpsmash tactic and
was able to gain the upper hand on Dong, 15-10.
In the decider, Dong seemed the fresher of the two while Hendrawan seemed to
have spent his all in winning the second set. With Hendrawan's shotmaking
going awry, the Chinese player was quickly in firm control with a large 10-2
lead. The tired Hendrawan managed to tally several points but Dong was more
than equal to the exhausted Indonesian's comeback try and won easily 15-8.
Olympic champions Ricky Subagja and Rexy Mainaky took the men's doubles gold
medal home to Indonesia, their country's only title in the individual medal
competition. Subagja and Mainaky defeated Thailanders Pramote Teerawiwatana
and Siripong Siripol in today's championship match.
The Olympic champions raced to a 6-0 lead in the opening game behind Ricky
Subagja's aggressive play and excellent defending. The Thais got rolling and
scored several times with combinations of smashes and drops. Mainaky and
Subagja though were a class above their opponents and won 15-5.
In the second, the Indonesians once again were in control, leading 9-4. The
Thais then staged a strong and spirited comeback, encouraged by the cheers of
the several thousand Thai supporters in the stands of Gymnasium 2 of the
Thamassat University Sports Complex and helped by some line calls that seemed
to disturb Mainaky.
Teerawiwatana and Siripol managed to pull close at 10-12 but the Indonesians
soon settled down to business. They turned back the Thai smash attack with
their trademark impregnable defending and then followed up with scoring shots
when the Thais tired or made poor replies. Subagja and Mainaky took the second
set 15-10 and, with it, the Asian Games gold medal.
Women's doubles Olympic and world champions Ge Fei and Gu Jun of China
continued to be invincible. Unbeaten in over two years in tournament play, Ge
and Gu added the Asian Games gold medal to their collection of titles. The
Chinese pair beat Indonesia's Elisa Nathanael and Deyana Lomban 12-15, 15-9
and 15-11 in today's final.
1996 Olympic mixed doubles champion Kim Dong Moon and silver medalist Ra
Kyung Min, both from Korea, defeated teammates Lee Dong Soo and Yim Kyung Jin
15-6 and 15-8 in the mixed doubles championship match.
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