World champion Lu leads Jiangsu to women's badminton team gold medal at National Games

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Newly crowned world champion Lu Lan led Jiangsu provincial team to take the gold medal of women's badminton team tournament after defeating Guangdong 3-1 at the 11th Chinese National Games here on Tuesday
QINGDAO, East China, Oct. 13 (Xinhua) -- Newly crowned world champion Lu Lan led Jiangsu provincial team to take the gold medal of women's badminton team tournament after defeating Guangdong 3-1 at the 11th Chinese National Games here on Tuesday.

    It's the second time for Jiangsu to enter the finals since 1997 and to lift the title since 1993. While for Guangdong, they have won silver medals at three consecutive National Games.

Lu Lan returns the shuttlecock during the game Oct. 13, 2009. (Xinhua/Guo Chen)

    Lu, world No. 8, battled her national teammate Xie Xingfang, twice world champion and Olympic runner-up.

    In the 42-minute match, Lu led the first game 4-0 before Xie managed to cut the deficit and leveled the score at 12-12. When Xie trailed 20-16, she saved three game points before losing 21-19. In the second set, Lu led all the way and never looked back to secure a comfortable win 21-9.

    "I think Xie's speed was very fast especially in the first set and her attack was very fierce. But in the second her physical strength proved to be a problem," said Lu after the match.

    Lu's words were echoed by Xie. "I was exhausted in the second set so I could not catch up Lu's speed," said Xie. "We still stand a chance (of winning the champion) in the following matches."

    2004 Athens Olympic Champion Yang Wei paired up with young shuttler Zhong Qianxin, ranked 68th in world women's doubles, and pulled one point back for Guangdong as they took down Tang Jinhua and Tan Wen 21-18, 21-12.

    Yang downplayed Guangdong's winning prospects, saying that Guangdong was weaker than Jiangsu in terms of overall strength.

    "The three singles players of Jiangsu have comparatively higher world rankings," said Yang. "But we have only one strong doubles pair (she and Zhang Jiewen). But in the team competition Zhang and I are experienced shuttlers so we have to pair other players to make Guangdong stronger. Zhong's performance is excellent today."

    "This is is my first match in my maiden National Games tour," said Zhong."I learned a lot from Yang. During the match, she told me to be patient when attacking in backcourt."

    In the following singles match, Wang Shixian, newly crowned in China masters, overcame Xia Jingyun 19-21, 21-13, 21-17, putting Jiangsu 2-1 ahead.

    "Even I lost in the first set, my confidence is built up and in the second and decider I played better," said Wang.

    Sun Xiaoli and Cheng Shu left no chances slip away as they outlasted Zhang Jiewen and Yao Guojun 17-21, 21-16, 21-16 to wrap up the 3-1 victory for Jiangsu.

    "In the decider, even we trailed by a large margin in the first half, we didn't lose our confidence. when we leveled the score at 14-14, I knew we are the champions," said Cheng.

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