Michelle Li Once Again Returns to the Podium at Commonwealth Games

Michelle Li has won the silver medal in women’s badminton singles at the 2022 Commonwealth Games. After battling an injury and having to settle for a fourth-place finish at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in 2018, Michelle Li returned to the Commonwealth Games healthy and leaves with the 2022 women’s singles silver medal.

After working her way through the tournament format, in the semi-final, Li found herself meeting a familiar and persistent face within her Commonwealth Games history, Kirsty Gilmour of Scotland. These two competitors have a Commonwealth Games history. It was Michelle who beat Kirsty Gilmour 2-0 to win the women’s singles gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland. Four years later, Gilmour beat Michelle in the bronze medal match at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, sending Li, hindered by a hip injury in the match, home with nothing. Here in Birmingham, UK, Li had already met Gilmour in the mixed team competition earlier in the week where Michelle beat Gilmour during the women’s singles portion of the Canada v Scotland matches.

The women’s singles semifinal match was a hard-fought battle where each athlete won a game forcing a third game. Point by point the athletes stayed even in the third game until Li pulled ahead and won 21-18. After the match, Li noted the history of the two and her plans for the upcoming gold medal final.

“It was definitely a battle. I am really happy and the emotions are still flowing,” said Li. “I tried not to think too much about winning or losing and just fight for each point. She brought a really tough game today and I am really happy that I battled through,” said Li. “I was down 20-18 in the second set and I knew, what I was doing wasn’t working, so I had to fight. That was the game I should have been playing all along. I was making too many unforced errors so I needed to go all in with nothing to lose.”

Earning the place in the final, Li acknowledged the complete reset required as she prepared to play the number one seeded Pusarla Venkata Sindhu of India.

“Tomorrow’s gold medal match will be a completely different game. I hope that today’s nerves are the last of it and tomorrow I can just go out and play freely,” said Li knowing she was set for a battle. “She is the top seeded player in these Games so I think the pressure is on her and I will do my best to use that to my advantage.”

Olympic medallist Sindhu won a bronze at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and a silver four years later in 2018 at Gold Coast.

The match was electric from the start. With a very supportive Indian audience in-house, the crowd were not shy with their roars of approval and opinion. After two hard fought games, it was Sindhu that won the match. Following the medals ceremony, Li spoke about the match.

“I felt in control a lot of the time, but I was the one that made the mistakes in the end and I was the one that gave her the easy points. I won all the hard points but gave her the easy points. I think that has a lot to do with my mental game and confidence and not second guessing myself,” said Li in the mix zone following the medals ceremony.

Moving forward, Li spoke of the confidence this particular match and the 2022 Commonwealth experience will give her.  

“I think it is still a very good accomplishment. I am happy I won the silver and I happy to bring home a medal,” said Li. “I am a little disappointed that it is not gold but I think there is a lot to learn from and take away from today so I hope that will make me better and stronger for the future.”