Hidayat bags gold

ATHENS, AUG. 21. Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia bagged the men's singles gold medal at the Olympics on Saturday, overpowering Shon Seung-Mo of South Korea 15-8, 15-7.

Hidayat sank to his knees and covered his face with his hands after winning the final with a strong forehand smash.

Roared on by hundreds of Indonesian supporters whose cheers filled the Goudi Olympic Hall, Hidayat recovered from a 6-0 deficit to sweep Shon aside in the first game.

The second game followed a similar pattern, Hidayat going 3-0 down before putting 12 points on the board without reply.

Ahead of the Games, China had been strongly fancied to win the title but their three players, including top seed Lin Dan, made early exits.

In the bronze medal play-off, Indonesia's Soni Dwi Kuncoro overcame Boonsak Ponsana of Thailand 15-11, 17-16 in the men's singles.

Kuncoro won the first game of his match with a killer smash after staging a fightback from 5-10 down.

He fell to the ground in delight after Ponsana's final shot landed out to secure victory in a tense closing phase of the second game.

Gold for Chinese women

Top seeds Zhang Jiewen and Yang Wei of China won gold defeating compatriots Huang Sui and Gao Ling in the final of the women's doubles competition.

Zhang and Yang lost the first game 7-15 but won the next two 15-4, 15-8 to claim China's third badminton gold.

In a match that had several long rallies and which drew audible gasps from the crowd, the top-seeded pair moved up a gear after its slow start to dominate the second game.

The duo then raced to a 7-0 lead in the third which laid the foundation for victory.

Zhang won the match point with a strong smash at the end of an exciting rally.

Ra Kyung-Min and Lee Kyung-Won of South Korea took bronze by defeating Zhao Tingting and Wei Yili of China 10-15, 15-9, 15-7. — Reuters