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Lee wins his 3rd individual title in last Commonwealth Games

April 15, 2018

Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei plays against India's Srikanth Kidambi during their men's singles badminton final match at Carrara Sports Hall during the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia, Sunday, April 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

GOLD COAST, Australia (AP) — Aging champion Lee Chong Wei gave newly-promoted world No. 1 Srikanth Kidambi a demonstration in how to peak for a championship on Sunday, claiming his third Commonwealth Games gold medal in the men’s singles.

The 35-year-old Malaysian star, a three-time Olympic silver medalist, rallied after dropping the first game to beat Kidambi 19-21, 21-14, 21-14 at the Carrara Sports and Leisure Centre only hours before the closing ceremony of the games.

“This is one of my most memorable achievements because this will be my last Commonwealth Games,” Lee said. “I know how important this gold medal is for Malaysia. I won this for the whole Malaysian badminton team.”

Kidambi beat Lee as he helped India win the mixed team title and had the better of the first game in the singles final until the Malaysian veteran found his touch.

“I lost to him in the mixed team event and I wanted to come back in the individual event. It’s not easy mentally,” Lee said. “In one week I played him two times in the final. The first time I lost ... I think mentally today I was very, very strong.”

Lee, who is 10 years older than Kidambi, won the individual and mixed gold medals in the 2006 and 2010 editions in Melbourne and New Delhi and will retire from Commonwealth Games competition with five golds and a silver.

Kidambi said he’d be a better player for the experience of his first Commonwealth Games.

“When you’re playing against such a good player you have to be at your best always throughout the match,” he said. “I started well but I made too many mistakes in my defense.

“In the third I really should not have given him that lead. He just played much better.”

Saina Nehwal had a 21-18, 23-21 win over Venkata Pusarla in an-all India final to collect her second Commonwealth Games singles gold.

“Much tougher because the pressure is always there when you already have a gold,” Nehwal said of the difference between winning in New Delhi in 2010 and now. “There are a lot more expectations — the pressure is way more than the other tournaments.”

Nehwal, the Olympic bronze medalist in 2012, ranked her title on the Gold Coast highly in her career achievements.

“You really want that gold medal for your country and I’m happy I could get it for my country,” she said. “I really put it with my Olympic medal and my world No.1 ranking. It’s a very emotional moment.”

Malaysia won the women’s doubles with Mei Kuan Chow and Vivian Hoo combining for a 21-12, 21-12 victory over England’s Lauren Smith and Sarah Walker.

England collected two gold medals on the final day. The husband-and-wife team of Chris and Gabrielle Adcock won the mixed doubles with 21-19, 17-21, 21-16 over Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith, and then Ellis combined with Chris Langridge to win the men’s doubles 21-13, 21-16 over India’s Satwik Rankireddy and Chirag Chandrashekhar Shetty.

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