China wins the Uber and Thomas Cups

CHINA'S team manager Li Yongbo heaped praises on his first singles player Lin Dan and second doubles Xie Zhongbo-Guo Zhengdong for rising to the occasion in the 3-1 Thomas Cup final victory over South Korea.

The three players had come under fire for conceding two points in the 3-2 semi-final victory over Malaysia on Friday.

“I've told everybody two days ago that these players need to redeem themselves in the final. And they played crucial role tonight to ensure the Thomas Cup remains with China,” said Yongbo.

He also hit out at critics who questioned the strength of the Chinese men's doubles pairs.

“It is different in a team event like the Thomas Cup where team spirit plays a very important role. The success of our men's doubles pairs in delivering crucial points is down to the strong team spirit in the squad,” he said.

The outspoken Yongbo also said that he hoped the Thomas and Uber Cup victories would cheer up the people back in his country and provide much needed encouragement and hope at a time when China is recovering from the earthquake tragedy in the Sichuan region.

He added that China faced a tougher time compared to previous tournaments as the 21-point scoring system allowed lower ranked opponents to catch up much faster.

“This year's Thomas Cup competition made me understand more about my own squad and also our opponents. Despite successfully retaining the title, we could learn about our own shortcomings here,” said Yongbo.

“Our next target is to do well at the Olympics being staged in our own backyard. But winning the Thomas Cup and Uber Cup does not guarantee China instant success in the Olympics. It is a different ball game altogether with players from other countries having a chance to win the gold medals.”

On Saturday, the China women's squad had defeated hosts Indonesia 3-0 to win the Uber Cup for a record sixth consecutive time.

Meanwhile, the South Korean team manager Kim Jong-soo expressed disappointment with his second doubles pair, Hwang Ji-man-Lee Jae-jin, for losing against the unheralded Zhengbo- Zhengdong.

“We faced an uphill battle once our first singles Park Sung-hwan lost the match against Lin Dan. But our second doubles pair were the favourites to deliver a point but failed to do so. I have to admit that the better team won,” he said.

“But our achievement in entering a first-ever final has boosted the confidence of the players ahead of the Beijing Olympics. I am proud of my players' effort and hope that this is a start of better things to come from South Korean badminton.”

(The Star)

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