Badminton: England fight to secure an overdue medal

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NICK PONTING and Gill Clark earned England's first medal for six years in a world championship when they won their second long, drawn-out thriller in two days at the National Indoor Arena, writes James Leigh from Birmingham. Their victory over Indonesia's Ricky Mainaky and Erma Sulistianingsih was greeted by almost as much delighted applause from a 4,000 crowd as if the home country had earned its first world title in 13 years.

Instead Ponting and Clark's thrilling 18-17, 12-15, 15-11 win took them to a likely contest today with the top seeded Danish- Swedish combination of Thomas Lund and Catrine Bengtsson in the semi-finals of the mixed doubles. 'Any world championship medal is a wonderful feeling - we have had a long wait,' Clark said.

It was the first medal since Gillian Gilks and Martin Dew reached the mixed semi-final in Peking in 1987, but there were moments when it seemed Ponting and Clark might not emulate them. They had to save three game points in the first game until Ponting snatched it with a spectacular diving lift which Mainaky put into the net.

The English pair lost a lead of 10-5 in the second and faltered at 12-9 in the third. Mainaky, produced startling retrieves while lying on the floor, but some good serving by Ponting steadied England and Clark produced the match winner at the net.

Denmark's Thomas Stuer- Lauridsen raised hopes of Europe's first men's singles winner for 16 years when he beat the Olympic champion Allan Budi Kusuma 15-3, 15-9.