Lin Dan wins sixth All-England

BIRMINGHAM - China's Lin Dan suggested that he is ready to win an Olympic gold medal for a third time after clinching a sixth All-England men's singles title.
Lin's emphatic 21-9, 21-10 victory in the final over his compatriot Tian Houwei was a thrilling rebuttal to critics who reckoned that, now aged 32 and with few titles in the past three years, the Chinese legend is a faded master. However, it wasn't all good news for China on Sunday with compatriot Wang Shixian denied the chance to emulate Lin by regaining the All-England title as well, in a dramatic climax that was filled by a cacophony of booing and a controversial penalty point against her.
Wang was leading 17-14 in the final game against Nozomi Okuhara of Japan when she was shown a red card for delaying too long at 17-all, thus slipping to 17-18 down without playing a rally and eventually losing by a whisker, 21-11, 16-21, 21-19. It had been a one-hour 39-minute thriller, the second longest match of the week, and the best final, but it was the decision of Mike Wright, the English umpire, which perhaps inevitably attracted more immediate attention and the most differing views.
"There should be certain standards," claimed Wang. "My opponent was doing the same (delaying) but I was the one who got the warning, and I am sorry about that. "I have complicated feelings about it all at the moment, and there are lots of elements (in what happened), but the call from the umpire I wasn't prepared for."
Wang also appeared to be unhappy about the video review decisions. Okuhara, whose career-best success occurred on her 21st birthday and followed her triumph in the Super Series finals in Dubai in December, had a rather different view. "The decisions were only minor issues," she claimed. Her win may be very significant. Okuhara may have a physical style and rely a great deal on this and upon admirable mental strength, but when the crisis was greatest she found unsuspected disguise and accuracy too, which augur well.
Okuhara's triumph also happened on a day when, remarkably, the Japanese were more successful than China, by far the world's strongest badminton nation.
Misaki Matsumoto and Ayaja Takahashi won the women's doubles and later Hiroyuki Endo and Kenichi Hayakawa came close to winning the men's doubles. Eventually though the unseeded Vladimir Ivanov and Ivan Sozonov's 21-23, 21-18, 21-16 improbable victory made them the first Russians ever to win an All-England title
The most major issue though was whether Lin Dan's one-sided win suggests he could go on to become favourite for the Olympics in Rio. By regaining the All-England title it left only Rudy Hartono, who won eight, with more. And the great Indonesian's were achieved more than 40 years ago in a pre-professional era.
Lin himself suggested a record third Olympic men's gold was possible in five months' time. "I wanted to show everyone that at 33 I will still be able to do it," he said.
Mischievously skilful, tenaciously contentious, and consistently fluent he ensured the outcome was never in doubt. Lin also made very few mistakes despite often playing to tight margins, before picking his moments superbly to make a quick change of direction or a sudden attacking thrust. "When I came back (after two long periods away from the game) I tried to prove to the world that I am still the best," Lin said, appearing to imply that he now thought he was. "I am pleased with the fitness that I have."

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