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Badminton

China's badminton crown wobbled in Athens as ex-power Indonesia recovered some of their past glories after victory in the prestige men's singles with Taufik Hidayat finally fulfilling his huge potential.
PTI | By Dave Thompson (Reuters), Athens
UPDATED ON AUG 31, 2004 08:19 PM IST

China's Olympic badminton crown wobbled in Athens as ex-power Indonesia recovered some of their past glories after victory in the prestige men's singles with Taufik Hidayat finally fulfilling his huge potential.

The Chinese, who won four out of five golds in Sydney, dropped to three in Athens and it could have been two but for a late rally by mixed doubles pair Zhang Jun and Gao Lin.

They just ousted battling Britons Nathan Robertson and Gail Emms in a classic three-set final, edging home to retain their Sydney title after trailing in the decider.

The big surprise of the tournament was China's failure to hang on to the men's singles title after the first round exit of hot favourite Lin Dan and subsequent departures of the highly rated Chen Hong and Bao Chunlai.

That left the way clear for Indonesia's stormy petrel Hidayat to glitter on the world stage.

A controversial figure whose temper has sometimes eclipsed his talent, Hidayat swept past Shon Seung-mo of South Korea 15-8 15-7 in a one-sided final.

His victory had been signposted by Denmark's Peter Gade, beaten by the new champion in the quarter-finals after fighting a familiar lonely battle against the might of Asia.

His ex-fiancee, fellow Dane Camilla Martin, is well aware of the matching syndrome in the women's singles though ironically she was beaten in her final Olympics by a European, Britain's Tracey Hallam.

Hallam then fell to Mia Audina, but the former Indonesian, now representing the Netherlands, was outlasted in the final by Chinese world champion Zhang Ning who won 8-11 11-6 11-7.

Top seeds Zhang Jiewen and Yang Wei won an all-Chinese clash in the women's doubles and Kim Dong-moon and Ha Tae-kown kept the South Korean flag flying in the men's doubles.

Crowds, disappointing at first, picked up impressively for the later stages, but will be eclipsed in four years time in Beijing with the sport back in one of its strongholds.

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