August 22, 2018 / 2:44 PM / in 2 months

Asian Games: Japan beat rivals China for first badminton title in 20 years

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Japan beat China 3-1 in the final of the women’s team event on Wednesday to secure the country’s first badminton gold medal at an Asian Games since 1998.

Badminton - 2018 Asian Games - Women's Team Final - Japan vs China - Gelora Bung Karno Sports Complex - Jakarta, Indonesia - August 22, 2018. Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota of Japan in action against Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan of China. REUTERS/Beawiharta

The victory also means China were prevented from winning a sixth consecutive gold in the event.

Japan’s top player and world number two Akane Yamaguchi struggled in the first rubber, losing to China’s Chen Yufei 21-15, 21-12.

However, Japan roared back to win three rubbers on the trot, first through Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota in the doubles before Nozomi Okuhara beat China’s He Bingjiao 21-16, 19-21, 21-15 to give Japan the lead.

Badminton - 2018 Asian Games - Women's Team Final - Japan vs China - Gelora Bung Karno Sports Complex - Jakarta, Indonesia - August 22, 2018. Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi of Japan go for a shot against Huang Dongping and Zheng Yu of China. REUTERS/Beawiharta

Olympic doubles champions Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi sealed victory with a 21-16, 21-11 win.

“China’s our biggest rival and I am extremely pleased to win this,” Takahashi told reporters.

The win brings Japan their first women’s team gold since 1970.

“I believe winning against China means we are a real world champions,” said Japan’s coach Park Joo Bong.

The women’s team medal was the first available in the badminton competition, which the Chinese are expected to dominate in Jakarta.

Badminton - 2018 Asian Games - Women's Team Final - Japan vs China - Gelora Bung Karno Sports Complex - Jakarta, Indonesia - August 22, 2018. Chen Yufei of China goes for a shot against Akane Yamaguchi of Japan. REUTERS/Beawiharta

They won four golds in the previous Games in Incheon four years ago.

Reporting by Jack Tarrant; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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