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September 19, 1998 (NEW SHUTTLENWS) - Kelly Morgan made history today by winning the first ever Commonwealth Games gold medal for the tiny principality of Wales, a part of Great Britain. Morgan captured the women's singles title in badminton by defeating India's Aparna Popat, 13-10 and 11-5, in today's championship match at the Kuala Lumpur Badminton Stadium.

Wales and some of the other nations and political entities that make up the United Kingdom - England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Jersey, Guernsey, the Falklands - participate in the Commonwealth Games as a separate teams. In the Olympic Games, these nations are all combined into one team under the British banner.

In the first game of the women's singles final, Morgan, the top seed, quickly asserted control of the match. Using good court movement to return Popat's shots and excellent stroke execution to produce accurate shot placements, the Welsh player seized a 9-4 advantage.

At this point, Popat came back in a fashion much like her miracle comeback in yesterday's semifinal against England's Julia Mann. Popat pulled even at 10-all to force a three-point setting on an unsettled Morgan.

Morgan got her focus back and quickly finished the game, first with an unreturnable tumbler at the net to get to 11-10, then with a backhand drive that surprised Popat, and finally with a ceiling-scraper serve that an anxious Popat smashed wide to put the score at 13-10.

In the second game, Popat got the early lead at 4-2 but then made several errors that allowed Morgan to equalize. Morgan increased the pace. She worked on Popat's uncertain backhand to induce errors or weak smashable returns. The Welsh player also moved Popat around and used accurate crosscourt smashes and drops to add to her score.

Morgan easily took the second 11-5.

In the mixed doubles final that preceded Morgan's victory, top seeds Simon Archer and Joanne Goode of England were much too strong for teammates Nathan Robertson and Joanne Davies. Archer and Goode won with ease 15-2 and 15-5 in a match that was completed in a little over 30 minutes. The gold medal though really was decided early in the first game when the top seeds pulled away to a 10-1 advantage.

In the men's singles semifinals, Malaysians Yong Hock Kin and Wong Choon Hann ensured Malaysia of at least one more badminton gold medal by winning their matches. Yong, the second seed, used his speed around the court to outposition and outplay Darren Hall of England. Yong won his half of the semifinals 15-7 and 15-1.

Wong had a surprisingly easy first 15-1 game win against an error-prone Pullela Gopi Chand of India. Gopi Chand put up more of a fight late in the second when he mounted a comeback from a 5-13 deficit.

Wong relaxed too much after he had gained the huge advantage and the Indian player changed to a more attacking style. The tactical change brought Gopi Chand close at 11-13. Wong regained the serve with a round-the-head smash and then moved to match point 14-11 when Gopi Chand jumpsmashed to return Wong's high serve and pounded the shuttle into the net.

At match point, Wong served low and the Indian player attacked the serve. Gopi Chand though sent the shuttle wide and Wong was through to the gold medal match.