Badminton: Riot sweeps Clark under the table: James Leigh reports on the Grand Prix Finals in Kuala Lumpur where the police intervened

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The Independent Online
GILL CLARK reached the final of the mixed doubles but then had to survive a spectators' riot before narrowly failing to reach the final of the women's doubles as well in the World Grand Prix finals in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

A hail of cans and bottles forced Clark and Joanne Wright, four other players and the president of the International Badminton Federation, Lu Shengrong, to take shelter in the centre of the vast Stadium Negara. The crowd were venting their anger at a controversial line decision on a neighbouring court in the men's singles match between the Commonwealth champion, Rashid Sidek, and the Olympic silver medalist, Ardy Wiranata.

Helmeted police waded into the crowd, dragged several spectators out, and appeared to make arrests, enabling play to be restarted after about 15 minutes. Luckily nobody was hurt.

'It was all a bit disconcerting, and we lost some of our momentum after that,' said Clark, whose partnership with Wright had minutes previously forced the top seeded Indonesians of Finarsih and Lili Tampi into a final game. Eventually Clark lost 15-8, 6-15, 15-8, though earlier with Nick Ponting she reached the mixed final after they had avenged themselves upon the Anglo-Danish pair of Gillian Gowers and Michael Sogaard.

Clark and Ponting, world bronze medalists, had lost to Gowers and Sogaard in the semi-finals of the Malaysian Open in July. Now, though, they kept the shuttle low, thus denying Sogaard chances to attack. Their 15-7, 15-6 win earned them a contest today with the world champions, Tomas Lund, of Denmark, and Catrine Bengtsson, of Sweden.

Sidek, the beneficiary of the disputed line decision, maintained his three-year unbeaten record in the stadium by beating Wiranata 11-15, 15-0, 15-8 and qualifying for a semi-final with the all-England champion from Indonesia, Heryanto Arbi.

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