Badminton: Record title haul for Hall

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The Independent Online
DARREN HALL gained a record sixth men's singles title in the English national championships here last night, but the champion Anders Nielsen claimed the schedule had hindered his chances of defending the title after he retired with cramp at 8-2 down in the third game of a gruelling and dramatic 70-minute final.

Hall, beaten by Nielsen in last year's final, and coached by his cousin Ray Stevens with whom he had shared the previous record of five titles, gained revenge in a contest which took an unexpected twist at 2-2 in the third game.

At that point Nielsen was warned by the umpire for taking too long to restart the rallies, and two points later it was obvious he could no longer move properly. He appeared to have retired at 6-2 down but somehow struggled on for two more points by which time both his legs had seized up.

'It was the most ridiculous schedule they could have devised,' said Nielsen, who had taken 73 minutes to win his semi- final in three games in the morning against Peter Knowles. 'They ought to play the semi-finals and finals on different days.'

Hall said: 'It was a shame to win that way but I am still delighted.' Earlier he had won his semi-final in straight games against Peter Smith in just 44 minutes.

Suzanne Louis-Lane, the third seed, won the women's singles, beating the defending champion Fiona Smith 11-4, 11-1 in a surprisingly one-sided final. Smith had won the title six times in the previous nine years and there had been doubts about whether Louis- Lane, who had a torn calf muscle, would last two matches in a day. But the strapped-up injury lasted well and all the hard work the Devon player had done in training in recent weeks made her the faster and more motivated player.

Results, Sport in Short, page 27