LONDON: Saina Nehwal of India has won the Olympic bronze medal after Wang Xin of China retired with a left knee injury in the second game of their playoff yesterday.
Wang collapsed after apparently twisting the knee while leading 20-18 and had it bandaged.
She resumed and took the next point to win the first game. She won the first point of the second game but fell to the court again and conceded the match.
Later, China's Li Xuerui survived two ferocious comebacks by her top-seeded compatriot Wang Yihan to seal the gold, capping her fairytale rise to the pinnacle of the sport.
Li had never imagined she would force her way onto China's peerless badminton team but a 30-game winning streak in the leadup to the tournament won her a spot
"Just being selected for China means something," the soft-spoken 21-year-old told reporters after upsetting the world champion 21-15 21-23 21-17.
"To be honest it's still like I am dreaming at the moment but looking back, it really was my hard work that got me on the team."
Li, like the rest of her team mates, has shown remarkable composure to shrug off a match-fixing scandal that threatened to derail the Chinese juggernaut and resulted in the expulsion of their world champion doubles pair Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli.
Instead, Li seems to have gone from strength to strength, thrashing second-seeded countrywoman Wang Xin in the semi-final and then grinding down gallant world number one Wang Yihan in front an enthralled crowd at Wembley Arena.
"I think it was extremely cruel for my two team mates to be disqualified because it's extremely difficult for any athlete to compete at the Olympics," Li added.
"Having said that, China has done well, winning both the mixed doubles and the singles and we should share that with them."
China's credibility took a beating over the scandal but Li and Wang did their bit to restore the team's pride by playing out a 78-minute classic.
Li raised her arms in triumph after forcing an error to seal the match and acknowledged ecstatic Chinese fans with an army salute. The vanquished Wang tried to smile but grimly held back tears as she stood next to the beaming Li on the podium.