Taiwan's Cheng Shao-chieh (鄭韶婕) became the first Taiwanese woman to win the silver medal at the World Badminton Championships in London yesterday, losing in the final to China's second-seeded former All-England champion.
The match between Cheng and the 23-year-old Wang Yihan (王儀涵) had lasted over 40 minutes, with Cheng losing to Wang 21-15 and 21-10 at around 10:20 p.m. last night.
Cheng's recent outstanding performances include grabbing the Canada Open title, when she beat Pi Hongyan of France in the women's singles final of the tournament July 25.
The No. 8-ranked female badminton player, Cheng, surprised the world at the quarterfinals by beating China's world No. 1 Wang Shixian (王適嫻) on Saturday, then advanced smoothly into the finals after a game with Germany's Juliane Schenk that lasted only 33 minutes. She was the first Taiwanese ever to make it into the finals of the women's singles event of the tournament.
Cheng beat Schenk 21-18 and 21-6 at the semifinals, topping the Taiwanese record of silver medal at the 1999 World Championships set by Fung Permadi (陳鋒), an Indonesian badminton player who played for Chinese Taipei.
Prior to the semifinals with Wang Yihan, second-seed of the contest and former All-England champion, whom 25-year-old Cheng had lost to all three times they had previously played, Cheng pointed out during an interview that she was not troubled by that record as “every match is a new start.”
Asked how she felt about being one step away from the title, Cheng said she was “calm” and did not intend to put too much pressure on herself to win.
China has long been the collector of gold medals at badminton world championships, and it has recently taken an interest in Cheng, who has twice beaten world No. 1 Wang Shixian and had set a new World Badminton Championships record by beating Schenk in only 33 minutes, China's state-owned Xinhua news agency said. The country's new interest in Cheng has led them to nickname her “the Chinese Taipei girl” (中華台北姑娘).
That Cheng had won against Wang Shixian at the quarterfinals was especially alarming for China, as the match had taken place at the exact venue where the 2012 London Olympics would take place, hence was regarded as the prelude to the Olympics by the Chinese officials.
Although Wang Yihan had, for three times prior to the final, defeated Cheng, “Cheng's fearless attitude makes it seem like everything is possible,” noted the News, pointing out that Cheng and Wang Yihan's finals match “could be a tight game.”
Xinhua also quoted Cheng's comments on her attitude toward the finals: “Patience and stability” and “don't think too much.” According to the report, Cheng had trusted that she would enjoy the match, and would “focus on the process” rather than on the end result. Cheng was quoted to have said that if she had won the match but had played awfully, she would not have felt happy; if she had lost but had greatly enjoyed the match, she would still be jolly.