Tue, Jul 31, 2012 - Page 20 News List

London 2012 Olympics: Asia’s top dogs flex their muscles as British duo exit

Reuters, LONDON

Asia’s badminton powers flexed their muscles on the second day of the London Games tournament on Sunday, as Britain’s strongest medal hopes tearfully crashed out of contention.

China’s world No. 3 Chen Long survived an enthralling tussle with Thailand’s Boonsak Ponsana in the men’s singles, coming back from 15-10 down in the second set to win 21-12, 21-17 and advance to the knockout rounds at Wembley Arena.

Compatriot and fellow world No. 3 Li Xuerui joined Chen in the last 16 of the women’s singles shortly after, having demolished Spain’s Carolina Marin 21-13, 21-11.

China’s men and women’s doubles also completed convincing victories, keeping the Asian nation on track for a historic sweep after winning three of the five titles on offer at the Beijing Games.

It was all doom and gloom for home hopes Chris Adcock and Imogen Bankier, though, after they were overhauled by German pair Michael Fuchs and Michel Birgit 11-21, 21-17, 21-14 to be bundled out of the mixed doubles.

The result left Scotland’s Bankier, who partnered Adcock to a silver medal at last year’s world championships at the same venue, with tears streaming down her face.

“Devastated, obviously,” a stone-faced Adcock said after the Britons’ second loss from their opening two matches. “We played patches of brilliance, the first set was perfect, so obviously, yeah, gutted. We did everything we could. Unfortunately, it wasn’t good enough today.”

China, South Korea and Indonesia have won 23 out of 24 titles since the sport joined the Olympics at the 1992 Barcelona Games, but women’s world No. 5 Saina Nehwal is determined to muscle India into the gold-medal club.

The 22-year-old, arguably the greatest hope of upsetting the four Chinese women ranked above her, blew away Switzerland’s Sabrina Jaquet 21-9, 21-4 in her first match of the tournament to the delight of a rowdy Indian contingent in the crowd.

TODAY’S HIGHLIGHTS

Table Tennis

From 5pm, the women’s singles quarter-finals and semi-finals.

Sailing

From 7pm, Taiwan’s Chang Hao starts his campaign in the men’s RS-X.

Swimming

From 2:30am in the morning, the finals of the women’s 200m freestyle, the men’s 200m butterfly, the women’s 200m individual medley and the men’s 4x200m freestyle.


“It’s been good. It’s my second Olympics and last time I was only 18 years old,” Nehwal said of her brilliant run to the quarter-finals in Beijing.

British fans let down by Adcock and Bankier’s elimination were back in full voice late in the evening session as Rajiv Ouseph survived his first men’s singles match against Sweden’s Henri Hurskainen.

With fans on the terraces thumping floorboards with their feet, the 25-year-old from the London borough of Hounslow sealed the match 22-20, 17-21, 21-15 with a smash in the left court and pumped his chest in delight as the crowd roared.

Yesterday in Group H of the men’s singles, Vladimir Ivanov of Russia defeated Hsu Jen-hao 21-15, 21-13 as the Taiwanese lost his first match of the tournament.

In Group K of the women’s singles, Taiwan’s Tai Tzun-ying defeated Anu Nieminen of Finland 21-11, 21-14, while in Group C Cheng Shao-chieh defeated Simone Prutsch of Austria 21-11, 21-9.

The big names of badminton also came out to play yesterday, with China’s Olympic men’s champion Lin Dan and his long-time rival Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia set to start their campaigns.

Suriname wild-card Virgil Soeroredjo’s Olympic adventure finished promptly in the morning with a one-sided loss to Japan’s Sho Sasaki, but he signed off with an opinion that many might share.

“I hope the guy from Malaysia, Lee, wins because China are taking enough medals,” he said.

Additional reporting by Staff writer

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