GOLD COAST, Australia (AFP) - South Korea Sunday won badminton's Sudirman Cup for the first time in 14 years with an emotional 3-2 victory over 10-time champions China at Australia's Gold Coast.
The South Koreans claimed their fourth cup in the biennial tournament with a charged 21-17, 21-13 win by Choi Sol-Gyu and Chae Yoo-Jung in the mixed doubles match.
The victory -- their first in the world mixed teams competition since Eindhoven in 2003 -- ended China's 14-year grip on the Sudirman Cup. China were on a streak of six straight victories and boasted an assembly of stars. They were red-hot favourites to add an 11th title and few gave South Korea a chance of topping the podium in Australia.
It was stunning achievement for South Korea and their young and relatively inexperienced players, coming less than a year after they limped out of the Rio Olympics with just one bronze medal.
"Before the event we were asked about our men's doubles players, and we were called a weak team," head coach Kang Kyung-jin said. "We tried to build our team spirit. We were in it together, and we believed we could do it."
South Korea, who also won the Sudirman Cup in 1991 and 1993, fought back from 2-1 down in the final to claim victory. Upon winning match point the entire South Korean team descended on Choi and Chae and swamped them in celebration, with Chae eventually climbing off the floor in tears.
"I was nervous," Chae said. "We hadn't played well earlier, but it was the last match, and I thought there was nothing to lose. "I was thankful to my team-mates for keeping us in the tie and taking it to the last match."
It was an outstanding performance by Choi and Chae, ranked 14th in the world, against the second-ranked Chinese combination of Lu Kai and Huang Yaqiong.
Rio Olympic champions Fu Haifeng and Zhang Nan gave China a confident start, rolling through the opening men's doubles match 21-14, 21-15 in 42 minutes. World bronze medallist Sung Ji-Hyun levelled the final when she mastered He Bingjiao in the women's singles 21-12, 21-16 in 49 minutes.
Chen Long, the reigning Olympic champion, two-time World champion and All England champion, was too strong for Jeon Hyeok-Jin and took 47 minutes to wrap up a 21-10, 21-10 victory to give China a 2-1 lead.
But third world-ranked pair Chang Ye-Na and Lee So-Hee took the final into a fifth match with a 21-19, 21-13 win over Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan in a 55-minute women's doubles rubber.