Badminton Life

Hong Kong Zhou Triumphs in New Zealand

Hong Kong Zhou Mi won her first tournament since taking the world's number one ranking when she triumphed at the $50,000 KLRC New Zealand Open at the North Shore Events Centre.

The 29-year-old, who now represents Hong Kong having once been a member of the China national team, faced little resistance during the tournament as she defeated local hope Rachel Hindley 21-10, 21-15 in the final.

Zhou won a bronze medal at the 2004 Olympics in Athens and then retired. In 2006, she switched her allegiance to Hong Kong but she was unable to compete at the Beijing Games in August because her new status had yet to be recognised.

She has since fulfilled her Hong Kong residency requirements and is now free to represent the former British colony. Some excellent results in recent weeks saw her rise to the top of the world rankings and now she hopes to stay there.

Zhou dedicated her victory to Hong Kong fans who have shown loyalty to the former China star. She also said the disappointment of not playing at the Olympics has provided her with more motivation to do well.

She was quoted as saying: "I want to show the fun of badminton to the Hong Kong fans and repay their support with the championship title," said Zhou.

"I was really upset when I knew I had no chance to play the Beijing Olympics. It powered me up in the tournaments after the Games."

It was an all-Malaysian final in the men's singles competition, with 2006 champion Lee Tsuen Seng beating 2005 winner Sairul Ayob in straight sets.

The left-handed Lee scored a 21-17, 21-17 victory, the winning shot being when Ayob left a drop shot that he thought was going out but stayed in.

In the men's doubles, Taiwanese pair Cheng Hung-lin and Lin Yu-lang surprised the top-seeded Indonesian pairing of Fernando Kuriawan and Lie Lingga to win 22-20, 21-10.

Taiwan also found success in the mixed doubles with Chan and Chou Chia-chi beating compatriots Hsieh Yu-hsin and Chien Yu-chin 21-18, 22-20.

The Taiwanese completed a sweep of the doubles events when Chien and Chou overcame Malaysian top seeds Chiou Hwee Haw and Pek Siah Lim 21-8, 21-15 in the women's doubles.

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