HANGZHOU, China -- Reigning world champion An Se-young claimed the women's singles badminton title at the 19th Asian Games on Saturday, becoming the first South Korean to win the Asiad gold in 29 years.
An beat China's Chen Yu Fei 2-1 (21-18, 17-21, 21-8) in the women's singles final at Binjiang Gymnasium in Hangzhou, China.
This medal is An's first singles title at the Asian Games and the second gold at the Hangzhou Games following the one in the women's team event.
It is the first time that South Korea won the women's singles competition since legendary player Bang Soo-hyun took the title in 1994.
An now has two gold medals at the Hangzhou Games after the title in the team event, joining a group of Korean athletes with multiple gold medals, including swimmer Kim Woo-min and fencer Oh Sang-uk.
With An's gold, South Korea bagged one gold medal and two silver medals from badminton on Saturday alone, following the men's doubles and the women's doubles crowns earlier in the day.
An rose to the world No. 1 spot earlier this week to become the first South Korean badminton player to do so after Bang. And she became the first South Korean to win a women's singles title in the world championships' 46-year history.
An was down 8-5 in the beginning of the first game due to some problems in her defense. But she kept up with Chen to tie at 11-11 and retrieved a one-point lead by Chen's miscue on her hairpin shot.
When closely leading the game 18-17, she complained of an injury in her right knee and had a medical break. She seemed uncomfortable with her leg, but she reached the 21st point and won the game thanks to her opponent's long stroke being called out.
In the second game, she apparently kept struggling with her right knee injury and her signature wide court coverage rarely worked. But she did not let Chen take the game smoothly and gave the Chinese some pressure by earning 17 points.
The South Korean opened the deciding third set 5-0, performing her water-tight defense and pushing the opponent to make mistakes. Then, she took a 14-6 lead on hard smashes and Chen's stroke misses, and the lead stretched to more than 10 points on An's short net shots and lifts. After the Chinese player took a medical break at 19-8, An added two points for the gold medal.
Now, the 21-year-old badminton player is eyeing the Paris Olympics to complete her collection of championship crowns from the Asian Games, Olympics, world championships and Asian championships. Only two male badminton players like legend Park Joo-bong have achieved such a feat.
An failed to reach quarters of the women's singles in the Tokyo Olympics.