Commonwealth Games / Badminton: England power their way to final

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The Independent Online
ENGLAND reached the final of the badminton team event last night in dominating fashion, with a 4-1 victory over Australia. Gill Clark and Julie Bradbury gave England a 3-1 winning lead by beating Yang Song and Wendy Shinners 15-2, 15-5 in the doubles, with Nicholas Ponting and Joanna Wright finishing off by beating Mark Nichols and Amanda Harding 15-13, 6-15, 15-5.

Earlier, England's European men's doubles champions, Chris Hunt and Simon Archer, had given England a 2-1 lead with a spectacular 20-minute victory.

Hunt's and Archer's power overhead and smothering aggression at the net has always carried great potential and it overwhelmed Peter Blackburn and Mark Nichols, a new partnership from which the Australians are expecting much, by 15-1, 15-0.

England, favourites to win the gold medal again, had made sure of a medal of some colour with five wins in two days that left them top of their group, but they experienced greater difficulty in the semi-finals against the improved Australians.

Substantial funding from Olympic sources and an eight-week preparation for these Games has ensured that Australia will gain only their second-ever badminton medal. It will be interesting to see their progress by Sydney 2000. Lisa Campbell, one of their three good women singles players, has already made progress, beating the English national champion, Suzanne Louis-Lane, 11-1, 11-3.

This match was closer than the scores suggest, with Louis-Lane working her opponent hard in the middle of the second game with every prospect of making a comeback. England found compensation in an opening men's singles victory by Anders Nielsen, their European bronze medallist, who beat Paul Stevenson 15-8, 15-6.

Canada, silver medallists the four previous Games team events, were beaten 3-2 by Hong Kong.