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Chen Yufei takes China's badminton back to top

03 Aug 2021, 00:05 GMT+10

© Provided by Xinhua

China's Chen Yufei has proved that the era of China's dominance has not come to an end after grabbing the 20th Olympic gold medal in badminton at the Tokyo Olympics.

TOKYO, Aug. 2 (Xinhua) -- With a marathon final rally of 42 shots, a new Olympic badminton queen has been crowned at Tokyo's Musashino Forest Sport Plaza.

Chen Yufei, China's top seeded women shuttler, crushed world number one Tai Tzu-ying of Chinese Taipei in the women's singles match at Tokyo Olympics on Sunday. When Tai scuffed her last shot to the net, Chen delivered China its 20th Olympic gold medal in the sport.

China, a powerhouse of the sport, has missed the Olympic podium since Rio 2016. But this time, Chen has proved that the era of China's dominance in the sport has not come to an end.

Coming from south China's Zhejiang Province, Chen has been seen as a natural for badminton with outstanding physical condition. At the age of 10, she joined the Zhejiang provincial team and was selected for the national youth team three years later. She finished runner-up at the Asian Youth Championship in 2012, and was soon sent to the top tier of the national team, with two-time Olympic champion Zhang Ning becoming her mentor.

© Provided by Xinhua

The young Chen first encountered difficulty when entering the national team. "Having witnessed the skill gap between myself and others, I was under a lot of pressure," Chen admitted.

During her early training, Chen, a national team member, unexpectedly lost to a provincial team player, which meant she was almost cast out of the national elite by her coach.

Looking back, "pressure and skepticism were both good medicine in terms of making me who I am today," said Chen.

Chen has been working hard to salvage her career by polishing her skills and building up her strength. Gradually, she became carefree again, but this time without overconfidence, but instead fearlessness.

© Provided by Xinhua

Chen's path toward the top of the Olympic podium has never been easy with World No.1 Tai waiting for her along the way.

In 18 matches against the veteran ahead of the Olympics, Chen lost 15 of them. "She has really good shot quality. The strength is good, and her technique is also excellent," Chen said, never hesitating to praise Tai. But she has no plan to surrender a long-cherished dream to Tai.

During the final, 23-year-old Chen played patiently and finally bagged a long-waited gold medal after the 82-minute match.

"This gold medal announces the comeback of Chinese badminton women's singles," she said after the final.

Speaking of the next Olympics, Chen did not hide her ambition. "We will show the strength of Chinese women's badminton again in Paris!" she said.

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