China's Chen defeats Lee for gold medal

China's Chen Long clinched the gold medal as Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei lost his third consecutive Olympic final.


China's Long Chen celebrates winning the gold medal after defeating Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei 21-18,21-18.

Long-frustrated Malaysian Lee Chong Wei's defeat of Chinese nemesis Lin Dan in the badminton semifinals was supposed to pave the way for a golden swansong and secure a desperate nation its first ever Olympic title.

Instead, it was another Chinese bogey-man raining on Lee and Malaysia's parade.

Twice world champion Chen Long played masterfully to edge the top seed 21-18, 21-18 at the Riocentro, but Lee, 33, was below his best, squandering solid leads in each game to bow out with a third successive loss in three Olympic finals.

“Losing this match will definitely give me some regrets," World No. 1 Lee told reporters. “I think I, Malaysia and the fans all hoped I would win the gold medal today.

“Malaysia has never won a gold medal in the Olympics. Today I tried my best but my opponent played better.”

Like much of the crowd that flocked to the venue for the semifinals on Friday, Lee felt he played his championship match a game too early against Lin, the man who beat him for the gold at Beijing and London.

It was a classic that deserved a bigger stage for the two battle-scarred veterans in their final Games. “After beating Lin Dan yesterday I was not really that happy because I really feel that our match should be the real final in the Olympics,” Lee said.

“It is really not easy for us to play four Olympic Games, and I think this is definitely going to be the last big competition for both Lin Dan and me.”

Lin, 32, also missed out on a medal in his final Games, being edged by rising Dane Viktor Axelsen for the bronze. But the Chinese heads into the sunset having previously won two Olympic golds and with his place in the pantheon of badminton greats assured.

Most decorated

Lee bows out as Malaysia's most decorated Olympian, but sadly he may well be remembered as the player who won everything except the titles that matter. Occupying the top world ranking for most of his career, Lee has never won a world championship or an Asian Games gold, beaten in the finals by Lin or Chen.

Adding a sour note late in his career, he was stripped of his 2014 world silver after failing a drug test. His ability to come back last year after an eight-month ban and rise again to the pinnacle of the game was a testament to his class and determination.

But his failure to win the biggest matches of his career has come to represent Malaysia's wider frustrations since the nation's debut at Tokyo in 1964. Lee's compatriots lost the gold medal deciders for badminton's mixed doubles on Wednesday and the men's doubles on Friday, leaving the team with three silvers from the tournament.

Malaysia's long wait for an Olympic champion in any sport is all but certain to go on for another four years. "(Lee's) still our hero and the others, I think in badminton, have done extremely well,” said Malaysia's team chef de mission Mohamed Al-Amin Abdul Majid.

“I think Malaysia still needs to be proud, we made three finals so it's a hard act to follow.”

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