Mixed doubles downed by Malaysia
13 August 2016
BADMINTON: One is a UK ex-pat who picked up badminton at age five to distract him from television. The other is a dual Olympian who never planned to play mixed doubles after her women’s debut at London 2012.
Today Robin Middleton, 31, and Leanne Choo, 25, were a team on an ill-fated mission to secure their spot in the quarter-finals of the Rio 2016 mixed doubles badminton competition, losing their second pool game. But still they remain optimistic.
Middleton and Choo were felled by Malaysia’s Peng Soon Chan and Liu Ying Goh 17-21, 15-21. And following their considerable loss to third seed Indonesia on Thursday, and with only one group match remaining, it is unlikely they will progress to the next round.
“It’s tough knowing that we’re mathematically out now… but we’ll just prepare as if it’s a new game, a new tournament,” Middleton said.
“There’s nothing different really. I want to go away with at least one win at the Olympics so we’ll just prepare as if it’s a new tournament, a new day and hope we play well.”
Next up is Thailand; a team who also lost its opening round match to the Malaysian duo.
Middleton and Choo were the top ranked mixed team at the Oceania Championships in 2016 and 2015, securing their place at the Rio Olympics.
However that fact remains a surprise to both team members.
“I don’t think I was really expecting to play badminton for Australia at the Olympics a year and a half ago if I’m totally honest,” Middleton said when asked if he ever imagined this outcome as a child.
“It’s been an incredible experience, I’ve loved being part of the team, it’s just been incredible, everyone has been so welcoming and it’s just everything I ever hoped for.”
Meanwhile Choo, who made the women’s doubles quarter-finals at London Olympics with partner Renuga Veeran (on a technicality), is enjoying her transition to mixed competition.
“I never thought I’d play mixed doubles, let alone in the Olympics,” she said.
“It’s a lot different, the game is a lot faster. It’s been a really good learning curve for the last two years playing with Rob, he’s really helped me out so I’m really grateful for that.”
Indeed the match versus Malaysia was fast: the Aussies managed to draw even four times in the first game but Chan’s flying slam was too quick and powerful in the second, allowing Malaysia a 12-4 advantage.
The duo put everything on the line, Middleton even diving to the ground to reach for one net-grazing shot. But the win was not to be.
Their hoping their first win will come tomorrow when they face Thailand at 9.05pm local (AEST 10.05am Sunday 14 August).
“When we’re attacking, we’re also very good. We hope we have a better chance than we did against the Indonesians,” Middleton said.
In the men's doubles Matthew Chau and Sawan Serasinghe lost their second pool match, going down to Russian pairing Vladimir Ivanov and Ivan Sozonov 16-21, 16-21. The Aussies held on, leading the second set until 8-8 but then the Russians, led by a 1.98m-tall Ivanov, managed to overcome the green and gold.
The men's doubles have one more pool game versus Taipei, who are also scoreless, to play Saturday morning 8am local (AEST 9pm).