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Home >> Sports
UPDATED: 11:08, May 17, 2004
China claims the Thomas Cup title
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Photo:China crowns in Thomas Cup
China crowns in Thomas Cup
Chinese shuttlers conquered top European team Denmark to win their fifth Thomas Cup title early Monday in Jakarta, the first time since they last won the men's world team trophy 12 years ago.

Only 24 hours ago, their fellow countrywomen retained the women's world team trophy Uber Cup here.

In the thrilling final played at the Bung Karno Indoor Stadium,Chinese young guns shattered Denmark's dream to become the first European team ever to win the trophy, with a 3-1 victory.

World's top shuttler Lin Dan took the attacks early in the opening game to give pressures on European champion Peter Gade. Although several of his smashes went wide, Lin continued

sharpening the attack to win the first game 15-8.

In the second game, Gade was more confident and consistently took the narrow lead with a wonderful net-play. But when Lin was trailing 10-13, he scored four points in a row thanks to unforced errors from Gade. Lin, already booked with a yellow card for wasting time, complained to the umpire when a powerful smash on Gade's left-hand side was claimed wide by the linesman.

Photo:China crowns in Thomas Cup
China crowns in Thomas Cup
But again Gade's smash failed to cross the net to give the game point back to Lin, who this time did not waste the opportunity and won 15-13, putting China in the lead. The All England champion was really thrilled about his win, which he celebrated by putting off his shirt and punching the air.

Then came the confrontation of two best pairs in the world, number one duo Lars Paaske/Jonas Rasmussen versus number two Fu Haifeng/Cai Yun.

The Chinese got the first game point at 14-13 but failed to score more in two opportunities, allowing the Danes to catch up. There were 14 services exchanged hands when both pairs were tied at 14-14 until the Chinese grabbed another game point. But their

opponents would not let the game over and made three unbelievable blocks to equalize 16-16, before they finally won 17-16. The second game was much easier for the Danish duet, who quickly collected point by point to seal the game 15-6.

Despite his young age, China's second singles Bao Chunlai had the confidence when taking on more experienced Kenneth Jonassen in the third match of the final spot. The 21-year-old Bao scored nine points in a row to catch up from 1-6 to 10-6, but the Irish International champion fought back and won the first game 15-12.

Both players exchanged the lead in the second game, with Bao getting the first game point at 14-12. The real test came when Jonassen scored three times for a match point, and Bao answered with impressive strong mental to again retake the lead and win 17-15.

In the third game, Bao explained why he is known as one of the best attacking players in the world and got many of his points from fantastic smashes. Bao won 15-12 over Jonassen in the deciding game to put China ahead again.

With easier path to the trophy, Sang Yang/Zheng Bo would not let down their teammates and came back from 10-13 to win 15-13 in the first game against All England champions Jens Eriksen/Martin Lundgaard Hansen.

Although Sang/Zheng have lost four times in six matches against the Danes, they put the head-to-head record far behind and won the championship game 15-8 without losing a lead. Both Chinese players looked like they didn't believe they have made it, clinching the Thomas Cup after waiting for 14 years. They were just lying down on the court as their teammates rushed in to rejoice.

"We deserve the Thomas Cup trophy. We reached the final without losing a match," Chinese head coach Li Yongbo said. At the same place in 1986, Li won the trophy as a player.

"China has the best team in the world. Besides, they have a lot of good players to play on. It's difficult to beat China this time," Denmark's team manager Steen Pedersen said separately.

The victory over Denmark completed China's success in the ten-day tournament, after they earlier retained the Uber Cup.

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