LONDON, Aug 5 (Bernama) -- Malaysia's gold drought in the Olympics continued as Datuk Lee Chong Wei, the country's main hope, had to settle for a silver after losing to Lin Dan of China in the men's singles final of the 2012 Olympics here in a three-set thriller.
Chong Wei, the world number two and the top seed here, lost 21-15, 10-21, 19-21 in 79 minutes to the world's greatest shuttler, Lin Dan, who clinched his second consecutive gold medal in the Olympics.
Lin Dan who beat Chong Wei 12-21, 8-21 in a lop sided final at the Beijing Olympics four years ago found himself on the rope in the third and deciding set when Chong Wei was leading 18-16, but an uncharacteristic error by the Malaysian saw the Chinese player claw back to level the tie and go on to win the gold.
In the first set, it was a point to point match as the Malaysian took a 6-4, 11-8, 17-12 and 19-14 lead and allowed Lin Dan to collect another point before sealing the first game 21-15 in 24 minutes.
In the second game, Lin Dan raised his game with a combination of jumping smashes, drop-shots and neat net play to lead 5-4, 13-7, 17-8, 20-10 before sealing it 21-10 in 20 minutes.
The deciding set had all the ingredients of a grand stand finish right from the start when both players fought point for point before Chong Wei, normally cool and composed, lost his focus and allowed the Chinese world number one to snatch victory from right under his nose.
Chong Wei who sank to his knees after conceding the match point said he was disappointed after losing his second Olympic final to the same opponent.
"It was really a tough match. But I know I played better than the Beijing edition," he said.
National badminton head coach Rashid Sidek said the strategy was to win the first game and pile the pressure on Lin Dan and it worked to perfection.
"But in the second game, Lin Dan had a healthy lead so Chong Wei was to concede the second and concentrate on the deciding set. However, winning the second game boosted Lin Dan's confidence and dug deep into his reserves to display extraordinary resilience and returned everything Chong Wei threw at him to win," he said.
Present at the Arena to provide support for Chong Wei were the Prime Minister's wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor and Deputy Prime Minister's wife Puan Sri Norainee Abdul Rahman.
Since 1956, only shuttlers in the men's doubles, Cheah Soon Kit/Yap Kim Hock (Atlanta, 1996) and men's singles, Datuk Lee Chong Wei (Beijing 2008), have come close to clinching the gold but ended up with silver medals.
The Sidek brothers, Razif and Jalani, contributed Malaysia's first Olympic medal with a bronze at the 1992 Barcelona Games while their younger brother Rashid took home a bronze from the men's singles at the same Games.
From Zulhilmi Supaat -- BERNAMA