We don't find many people defending their Olympic Badminton titles. "Smashing" Zhang Ning, now 33 years of age, defended her Olympic Singles title as she managed to beat current world no.1 and fellow Chinese star Xie Xingfang 21-12 10-21 and 21-18.
Zhang Ning in action against Xie Xingfang (Photo credit: Lars Baron/Getty Images)
Xie Xingfang in action against Zhang Ning (Photo credit: Lars Baron/Getty Images)
Zhang Ning celebrates her victory. (Photo credit: Lars Baron/Getty Images)
Zhang Ning poses with her gold medal. (Photo credit: Lars Baron/Getty Images)
It was Zhang's final Olympic appearance and she produced a remarkable game to overcome her younger competitor. Zhang looked tired after losing the second set; however she showed some great mental strength to maintain her focus in the game and to produce some great badminton display throughout the game. It was one of those days where both players were fighting each other, point for point and in the final set and the game could have gone either way. In the final few points of the game, we could see Zhang's tiredness showing but her determination to win was stronger than Xingfang as she maintained her composure and continued to play more aggressively with attacking lobs, chops, smashes and sharp net plays which lead to her crowing of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Badminton Women's Singles Champion.
"After Athens I didn't think about participating in Beijing," said second seed Zhang following her victory.
"I'm 33 years old and I made it to the finals - I believe it was tenacity that got me this gold medal." said Zhang. Personally I admire people like her as role models to the sport. She has great sportsmanship and a humble personality. She reminds me of Andre Agassi who proved that with determination and the right mind, age is just a number.
Credit to Xie Xingfang too for producing a fine display of badminton throughout the tournament. It is Xingfangs first ever Olympics and I'm not too sure if she will still be playing in the next Olympics in London. In an earlier interview Xingfang has said that she wants to retire from badminton one day to live a normal life, "cooking soup" for Lin Dan when get gets back. :) however I'm not too sure when.
China missed a clean sweep of the women's singles medals when Indonesia's Maria Kristin Yulianti took bronze. Congrats to Maria for the bronze! She had a great tournament with a great run; upsetting the many seeded players who came in her way.
Womens Singles Gold Medalist: Zhang Ning
Womens Singles Silver Medalist: Xie Xingfang
Womens Singles Bronze Medalist: Maria Kristen
Check out Zhang Ning's road to Beijing here.
Catch Zhangs victory thanks to BBC UK.