Tokyo Olympics badminton in review: Upsets abound by unseeded teams

Posted at 3:40 AM, Aug 04, 2021

The badminton tournaments in Tokyo resulted in some historic wins and some unpredictable upsets. China ultimately finished with the biggest haul, but it wasn’t the golden sweep that the rankings foreshadowed. 

From the underdogs taking down the top seeds to the nail-biting final points, the badminton matches had a little something for everyone. 

Medal table

Country Gold Silver Bronze Total
China 2 4 0 6
Chinese Taipei 1 1 0 2
Indonesia 1 0 1 2
Denmark 1 0 0 1
India 0 0 1 1
Japan 0 0 1 1
South Korea 0 0 1 1
Malaysia 0 0 1 1

Men's singles

Denmark's Axelsen dethroned reigning champion Chen 


Viktor Axelsen was unstoppable in the men’s singles tournament, winning every match he played without losing a single game. His path to the top of the podium ran through Chen Long, but he breezed past the 2016 Olympic champion just as he had done with all his previous opponents. 

In the gold medal match, Axelsen defeated Chen 21-15, 21-12 to pick up his second Olympic medal after winning bronze in Rio. Chen’s silver gave him a full set of medals, joining the gold he won in 2016 and his bronze from 2012. 

SEE MORE: Axelsen caps perfect tournament with gold in men's badminton

Ginting overpowered Cordon for bronze

Kevin Cordon was no match for bronze medalist Anthony Ginting, who at one point held an 18-point lead. 

Though Cordon took down higher-ranked opponents in pool play, he ultimately fell 11-21, 13-21 to Ginting.

Both men made history, as Cordon became the first Guatemalan badminton player to ever reach an Olympic medal match and Ginting won Indonesia’s first medal in men’s singles since 2004. 

SEE MORE: Ginting dominates in men's badminton singles to win bronze

Women's singles

Chen outlasted Tai for gold


The score was close, but Chinese Taipei's Tai Tzu-Ying couldn't keep up with China's Chen Yufei in the women's singles gold medal match. Chen took the first and third games 21-18, 21-18, but it was neither an easy nor a quick victory. 

The match lasted an hour and 21 minutes, and the longest rally was 45 strokes. Tai edged Yufei in Game 2, 21-19, but she didn't complete the comeback in Game 3. 

Tai's medal was the first-ever Olympic silver in badminton for Chinese Taipei while Yufei's gold was China's second of the Tokyo Games. 

Sindhu became the most decorated badminton player in Indian

P.V. Sindhu downed China's He Bingjiao 21-13, 21-5 in the bronze medal match to stand on an Olympic podium for the second time in her career. 

SEE MORE: India's PV Sindhu wins women's badminton bronze

The 26-year-old won a silver in Rio, and by adding a bronze in Tokyo she became the only Indian badminton player with two Olympic medals. She is also only the second athlete to win two medals in individual events while representing India and the fourth woman to earn badminton medals in consecutive Olympics. 


Lee, Wang put Chinese Taipei on the badminton map in men's doubles


Lee Yang and Wang Chi-Lin of Chinese Taipei played their gold medal match against China's Li Jun Hui and Liu Yu Chen with a swiftness that suggested they were trying to reach the top of the podium as quickly as possible. 

It only took 34 minutes for the pair to pull off one of the biggest upsets in Olympic badminton history, and they did it in dominant fashion. Lee and Wang only needed two games to defeat Li and Liu, winning the first game 21-18 and the second 21-12. 

The pair made history as the first unseeded team to win the men's doubles tournament in badminton. Their golds were also the first ever Olympic medals in the sport for Chinese Taipei. 

In the men’s bronze-medal match, Malaysia's Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik dropped the first game to Indonesia’s Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan 17-21 before bouncing back 21-17, 21-14 for the win.

SEE MORE: Unseeded Chinese Taipei wins gold in badminton men's double

Indonesia shocked China in women's doubles gold medal match


The men's doubles match foreshadowed the outcome of the women's doubles tournament, as an unseeded pair from Indonesia outplayed a team from China that was the No. 2 seed.

Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu overcame a broken racket and a challenge on the final point to down China's Jia Yifan and Chen Qingchen in the match that decided the Olympic champions.

The pair representing Indonesia won the first game 21-19 and took the second 21-15 to become the first unseeded women's team to win Olympic gold. Their victory gave Indonesia its first gold of the Tokyo Games and the nation's first medal in women's doubles. 

SEE MORE: Indonesia celebrates women's doubles badminton gold medal

In the battle for bronze, two teams from South Korea faced off. Kim So-Yeong and Kong Hee-Yong defeated  Lee So-Hee and Shin Seung-Chan 2-0 to snag the final podium spot. 

The bronze medalists won the first game 21-10 and clinched victory in Game 2 with a final score of 21-17.

China v. China in mixed doubles final


Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong won two world titles together, but the pair was beat out for gold by another team from their country who was ranked one spot lower.

Wang Yilyu and Huang Dongping were the No. 2 seed entering the gold medal match, but their play earned them the No. 1 spot on the top of the podium. 

SEE MORE: China's best teams clash for mixed doubles badminton gold

Yilyu and Huang jumped ahead in Set 1 with a 21-17 win, but Zheng and Huang responded in Set 2. The silver medalists outscored their compatriots 21-17, but Yilu and Huang sealed the deal and their first Olympic golds with a clutch 21-19 victory in Set 3.

In the bronze medal match, Japan's Watanabe Yuta and Higashino Arisa edged out Tse Ying Suet and Tang Chun Man of Hong Kong, 21-17, 23-21.