Nozomi Okuhara takes badminton bronze without a fight after China’s Li Xuerui pulls out injured

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 20 August, 2016, 1:42am
UPDATED : Saturday, 20 August, 2016, 5:55am

Chinese badminton superstar Li Xuerui has pulled out of the women’s singles third-place match because of a torn ligament in her left knee, allowing Nozomi Okuhara from Japan to take home the bronze medal without a fight.

Li, who gold won at the 2012 London Olympics, sustained the injury during her 14-21, 16-21 semi-final loss to Spain’s Carolina Marin, the world’s number one player.

The Chinese player’s knee ligament was “completely torn”, her coach Li Yongbo told Xinhua.

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China Central Television quoted a member of the Chinese team’s medical staff as saying that Li had not known the seriousness of her injury during the semi-final match.

“When she was injured, she was very focused and so she did not feel the pain except that she felt she could hardly move her leg,” the staff member said.

“I jumped over to her [during the match] and asked her how she felt. She insisted on finishing the match.”

The 25-year-old Li said after the match against Marin that she felt her injury was “not a huge deal”.

“The biggest challenge is myself,” she said when asked about competing against the world’s top player.

“Our Chinese team is strong. We have tried our best to perform well at the Olympics. These days the challenge is much more competitive worldwide. Every team is showing they are strong and powerful.”

Marin went on to win the gold medal by beating India’s Sindhu Pusarla in the final.