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December 17, 1998 (NEW SHUTTLENWS) - Japan's Kanako Yonekura scored another major shocker today at the Asian Games individual badminton medal competition in Bangkok, Thailand when she defeated the highly seeded Chinese player Gong Zhichao in the final of the women's singles event 1-11, 11-5 and 11-6 and captured the gold medal, Japan's first in badminton after a 28-year drought.

Earlier in the competition, Yonekura had also pulled off a great upset when she beat world champion Ye Zhaoying of China in a quarterfinal match 0-11, 13-10 and 11-9.

In today's championship match, Yonekura was once again overwhelmed in the opening game. The fleetfooted Gong notched 10 scores and was at game point before the Japanese player was finally able to get a marker.

In the second game, Yonekura played more patiently, engaging Gong in long four-corner rallies. Slowly, she wore the Chinese player down. Gong began to make mistake after mistake and the Japanese player capitalized to win at 11-5.

Yonekura continued to rally patiently in the decider, combining long clears with delicate dropshots and tight netshots. Once again, Gong's play became more and more error-prone, often gifting the Japanese player with precious points.

In the men's singles final, Dong Jiong, China's 1996 Olympic silver medalist, gave his best performance in a year when he beat Indonesia's Hendrawan in three games to take an Asian Games gold medal.

The first game between Dong and Hendrawan was a closely fought affair. The Indonesian had his tight netshots and jumpsmashes working well. He had worked into a small 13-10 lead late in the set and had a game point at 14-12. Dong though was able to pull even and force setting as the Indonesian faded into erratic play. In the tiebreak, Dong was the steadier player and won at 17-14.

Hendrawan came back strong in the second with aggressive play. He added some fast driving shot combinations to his favorite netshot-jumpsmash tactic and was able to gain the upper hand on Dong, 15-10.

In the decider, Dong seemed the fresher of the two while Hendrawan seemed to have spent his all in winning the second set. With Hendrawan's shotmaking going awry, the Chinese player was quickly in firm control with a large 10-2 lead. The tired Hendrawan managed to tally several points but Dong was more than equal to the exhausted Indonesian's comeback try and won easily 15-8.

Olympic champions Ricky Subagja and Rexy Mainaky took the men's doubles gold medal home to Indonesia, their country's only title in the individual medal competition. Subagja and Mainaky defeated Thailanders Pramote Teerawiwatana and Siripong Siripol in today's championship match.

The Olympic champions raced to a 6-0 lead in the opening game behind Ricky Subagja's aggressive play and excellent defending. The Thais got rolling and scored several times with combinations of smashes and drops. Mainaky and Subagja though were a class above their opponents and won 15-5.

In the second, the Indonesians once again were in control, leading 9-4. The Thais then staged a strong and spirited comeback, encouraged by the cheers of the several thousand Thai supporters in the stands of Gymnasium 2 of the Thamassat University Sports Complex and helped by some line calls that seemed to disturb Mainaky.

Teerawiwatana and Siripol managed to pull close at 10-12 but the Indonesians soon settled down to business. They turned back the Thai smash attack with their trademark impregnable defending and then followed up with scoring shots when the Thais tired or made poor replies. Subagja and Mainaky took the second set 15-10 and, with it, the Asian Games gold medal.

Women's doubles Olympic and world champions Ge Fei and Gu Jun of China continued to be invincible. Unbeaten in over two years in tournament play, Ge and Gu added the Asian Games gold medal to their collection of titles. The Chinese pair beat Indonesia's Elisa Nathanael and Deyana Lomban 12-15, 15-9 and 15-11 in today's final.

1996 Olympic mixed doubles champion Kim Dong Moon and silver medalist Ra Kyung Min, both from Korea, defeated teammates Lee Dong Soo and Yim Kyung Jin 15-6 and 15-8 in the mixed doubles championship match.


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