RIO DE JANEIRO: Lee Chong Wei, the king of Malaysian badminton, will leave the Rio de Janeiro Olympics without the crown – and so will Malaysia without the coveted gold.
The 33-year-old lost his third Olympic final after going down 18-21, 18-21 to Chen Long at the Riocentro Pavilion 4 on Saturday.
It was indeed a painful end for Malaysia as it was the third false dawn. Earlier, Malaysia had also lost in the men’s doubles and mixed doubles finals.
Malaysia thus will return home with a total of four silvers and one bronze.
The other three silvers came from Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying (mixed doubles), Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong (men’s doubles) and divers Pandelela Rinong-Cheong Jun Hoong (women’s 10m platform synchro). Cyclist Azizulhasni Awang contributed the sole bronze through the men’s keirin.
Both Chong Wei, playing in probably his last Olympics, and Chen Long went onto the court to loud cheers from their countries’ supporters.
Chong Wei, who lost to Lin Dan at the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London finals, looked tentative in the beginning to allow Chen Long to open up a 4-0 lead. But he recovered his composure to lead 5-4.
After that, they traded point until it was 7-7 before Chong Wei pulled away for an 11-7 and then 14-10 lead.
But Chen Long refused to go away and managed to level at 14-14.
Twice Chong Wei surged in front but Chen Long capitalised on the Malaysian’s mistakes at the net to lead 20-17. Although world No. 1 Chong Wei managed to save one match point, his failure to return a smash gave Chen Long a 21-18 win in 35 minutes.
Oozing confidence, Chen Long was always in front in the second game – leading 4-1 and 5-2.
But Chong Wei fought back to go 8-5 up. Chen Long then went on a smashing spree, winning six points for an 11-8 advantage.
The 27-year-old world No. 2 never looked back after that as he always had at least a three-point lead.
Everything looked lost for Chong Wei as Chen Long reached 20-16. The Malaysian saved two match points but then sent the shuttle out to lose 18-21 in 38 minutes.
For Chen Long, it was his first Olympic gold to add to his two All-England and World Championships crowns.
Chong Wei can only look in envy as he’s still without a world or Olympic crown. He also lost in three World Championships finals.
Chen Long’s gold was only China’s second at these Games after Fu Haifeng-Zhang Nan triumphed in the men’s doubles.
Earlier, two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan fell from grace in probably his last Olympic outing after losing 21-15, 10-21, 17-21 to Dane Viktor Axelson in the 70-minute bronze medal playoff.