YOUTH OLYMPICS 2014 Finals – He happy at home

Jiangsu native He Bingjiao celebrated her first victory over two-time World Junior Champion Akane Yamaguchi as the results of both of April’s World Junior finals were reversed at the Nanjing […]

Jiangsu native He Bingjiao celebrated her first victory over two-time World Champion Akane Yamaguchi as the results of both of April’s World finals were reversed at the Nanjing .

By Don Hearn.  Photos: Courtesy of China Foto Press (live)

The girls’ singles gold medal match at the 2014 Youth Olympics in Nanjing was one that put on display the best of not only the sport of badminton but of its current scoring system as well.  Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi and He Bingjiao (pictured) of China, who had already done battle at the last two World Junior Championships, played their closest and most exciting match yet.  The two 17-year-olds were on court for 76 minutes, fighting to photo finishes in the first two games before He finally emerged the winner by scores of 22-24, 23-21, 21-17.

He had already lost to Yamaguchi in the team event of last year’s World Juniors in Bangkok and then in the girls’ singles final of this year’s event in Malaysia.  This time, playing so close to her hometown of Suzhou, she was clearly keen to reverse the trend.  She thrilled the crowd right from the start, diving to retrieve her Japanese opponent’s expertly placed shots and never giving up but Akane was just too consistent and ended up taking the game before He got control and took the next two.

Yamaguchi is the one who has been in the spotlight over the past year.  Soon after winning gold at the Nanjing Asian Youth Games last summer, she stunned the badminton world by becoming the first player ever to win a Superseries title at age 16, the 2013 Japan Open, and then she went on to win two World Junior titles in the space of 6 months.

He Bingjiao, too, has been on the move in the past year.  Semi-finalist at both the Asian and World Juniors in 2013, she then went on to reach the semi-finals of the Korea Grand Prix Gold and then finished off the year with the Vietnam Open, her first Grand Prix title.  Both girls have another year of juniors left and He will be the major obstacle to Yamaguchi equalling Ratchanok Intanon’s feat of winning three straight World Junior singles titles.

The boys’ singles, too, featured a reversal of the final result from this year’s World Junior Championships in Alor Setar.  China’s Lin Guipu and Shi Yuqi, though, had already faced each other in international tournaments a total of five times in just the past ten months, even without opportunities in team events.  It was Shi who shut down his compatriot in the early rounds of last year’s World Junior Championships, even though Lin was riding high after his Asian Youth Games gold in Nanjing last summer.

Lin may have turned the tide on his team-mate early this year, beating Shi en route to winning the German and Dutch Junior titles before winning their final in Alor Setar, but it was the older Shi Yuqi (pictured) who was in form this time.  Like girls’ singles gold medallist He Bingjiao, Shi was playing in his home province of Jiangsu and he used the comfort zone to take the boys’ singles final in straight games.

The mixed doubles final saw Chinese Taipei’s Lee Chia Hsin again come up just short.  She finished with just one silver as she and Japan’s Kanta Tsuneyama lost out to Cheam June Wei of Malaysia and Ng Tsz Yau of Hong Kong in two close games.  Lee had earlier lost the girls’ singles bronze medal match to Thailand’s Busanan Ongbamrungphan.

Final day results

Girls’ singles
Gold medal match: He Bingjiao (CHN) [2] beat Akane Yamaguchi (JPN) [1]  22-24, 23-21, 21-17
Bronze medal match: Busanan Ongbumrungpan (THA) [3/4] beat Lee Chia Hsin 21-7, 21-12

Boys’ singles
Gold medal match: Shi Yuqi (CHN) [1] beat Lin Guipu (CHN) [2] 21-15, 21-19
Bronze medal match: Anthony Ginting (INA) [3/4] beat Aditya Joshi (IND)  21-17, 21-16

Mixed doubles
Gold medal match: Cheam June Wei (MAS) / Ng Tsz Yau (HKG) beat Kanta Tsuneyama (JPN) / Lee Chia Hsin (TPE) [5/8]  21-14, 23-21
Bronze medal match: Sachin Premashan Dias Angodavidanalage (SRI) / He Bingjiao (CHN) [2] beat Mek Narongrit (THA) / Qin Jinjing (CHN) [5/8]  21-16, 21-18

Click here for complete results

Don Hearn

About Don Hearn

Don Hearn is an Editor and Correspondent who hails from a badminton-loving town in rural Canada. He joined the Badzine team in 2006 to provide coverage of the Korean badminton scene and is committed to helping Badzine to promote badminton to the place it deserves as a global sport. Contact him at: don @