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December 11, 1998 (NEW SHUTTLENWS) - China and Indonesia split top honors today in the finals of the badminton team competition at the 1998 Asian Games in Bangkok, Thailand. The Chinese women's team defeated South Korea 3 matches to 1 to take one gold medal, while the Indonesian men's team captured the other top prize with a surprisingly easy 4-0 victory over China.

In the early afternoon, world singles champion Ye Zhaoying staked the Chinese women to a 1-0 lead when she successfully fought off a spirited and determined effort from Kim Ji Hyun in the opening singles. Kim's play and dogged retrieving gave the world champion from China some problems, specially in the second game when Kim battled her to a setting at 10-all. Ye though was able to overcome Kim in the closing rallies of both games to win 11-9 and 13-11.

World doubles champions Ge Fei and Gu Jun then combined to beat back a strong performance from Ra Kyung Min and Chung Jae Hee to put China one win away from the Asian Games gold medal. Ge and Gu defeated the Korean pair 15-13 and 15-11.

Gong Zhichao finished the Koreans off with an easy medal-clinching 11-4 and 11-1 victory over Lee Joo Hyun in the second singles.

The Koreans took the meaningless second doubles match. Kim Shin Young and Yim Kyung Jin beat Tang Hetian and singles specialist Zhang Ning 15-11 and 15-7.

The two teams agreed not to play the third singles match.

The Chinese and Indonesian men's teams played for the other gold medal in the late afternoon.

In the first singles, Hendrawan's shots, particularly his tight-net-shot-and- smash combinations, were too much for China's Sun Jun to cope with and the Indonesian player was able to carve out a surprisingly easy win at 15-7 and 15-6.

Olympic doubles champions Ricky Subagja and Rexy Mainaky then defeated Zhang Jun and Zhang Wei 15-11 and 15-8.

In the critical second singles, China's Luo Yigang once again failed to come up with a top-caliber performance. At the semifinals of the Thomas Cup Finals last May between China and Indonesia, Luo was defeated by Hendrawan also in the crucial second singles. Today, Luo went down almost without a fight to Indonesian teenage sensation Taufik Hidayat 6-15 and 5-15.

Hidayat's unexpectedly easy win clinched the men's team title for Indonesia for its first gold medal of the 1998 Asian Games to the delight of the many Indonesian supporters in the stands at the Thamassat University Sports Complex gymnasium. China had to settle for the team silver medal.

In the dead second doubles, Chandra Wijaya and Tony Gunawan of Indonesia beat Liu Yong and Yu Jinhao 15-0 and 15-11 (scoreline unconfirmed).

By agreement between the teams, the last match - the third singles - was not played.

South Korea and Malaysia took the bronze medals in the men's team event. In the women's team competition, Indonesia and Japan were the bronze medalists.

The badminton players have a day off tomorrow. The competition for the individual medals begins on Sunday with the finals slated for Thursday.



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