Chinese play like superpowers of the court

19 January 2013

BADMINTON: Super Saturday gave AYOF athletes their first chance to shuttle towards the podium in the individual badminton events, and the competition was as fierce as it was fast.

The most involving and entertaining badminton match of the festival was today’s men’s doubles clash between Chinese Taipei and Malaysia.

The spotlight was well and truly on the players, with the match being the only one played in the hall and the stands at near full capacity.

Chinese Taipei’s men’s pair Ko-Chi Chang and Chi-Hung Liao had already become crowd favourites for their vocal and aggressive style of play.

Their competitiveness rubbed off on their top seeded Malaysian opponents An Khang Tai and Wee Gieen Tan, who found themselves also shouting exultantly after each point.

After a tightrope final game that had the crowd enthralled, Malaysia came out on top (21-16, 24-22).

Malaysia will have four of their athletes contesting the finals, but China is already guaranteed five medals when the finals arrive tomorrow.

Leading the Chinese charge is Song Xue, whose place in the men’s singles gold medal match has always seemed a fait accomplit. The 18-year-old favourite for gold has not conceded a single game in his four matches. He won his quarter final today 21-9, 21-7.

The gold medal match between Xue and Malaysian Joo Ven Soong, who played against one another in the team event (where Xue beat Soong 21-19, 21-13), promises to be one rich in competition and atmosphere.

Unfortunately the home-side will not be represented in the final.

Five Australian teams progressed to the second round, but all were eliminated in their following matches.

Australia’s most successful representatives in the team event, Gronya Somerville and Jacqueline Guan, were knocked out of the doubles early by Chinese Taipei pair, Szu Yu Chen and Ting Yi Chen.

The Australians lost by two points in the first game, and streaked away to a 17-8 lead in the second game. In a sudden and dramatic turnaround, the Chinese Taipei team won 21-18.

Fourteen-year-old Joy Lai performed the best of the Australians in the singles when she overcame Oceania’s Magali Bravo who is four years her senior.

But Lai could not reproduce the goods in the quarter finals. She lost to second seed Ying-Chun Lin from Chinese Taipei, who, like Bravo, is 18-years-old.

Between New Zealand and Combined Oceania, only one athlete advanced beyond the opening round.

Still, there remains promise in the teams.

Dylan Soedjasa (New Zealand) made it into the singles quarter final before he was knocked out by Great Britain’s Alex Lane. The Brit then put up a strong challenge against first seed Joo Ven Soong from Malaysia, but was inevitably trumped for the final berth.

Oceania’s Remi Rossi took a one game lead ahead of Australian Anthony Joe, but succumbed to fatigue and frustration on the home stretch.

The finals commence at 10am on Sunday the 20th.

The medal matches are:
-Mei Kuan Chow/Meng Yean Lee (Malaysia) v Yaqiong Huang/Xiaohan Yu (China), for the women’s doubles
-An Khang Tai/Wee Gieen Tan (Malaysia) v Tianyi Pei/Ningyi Zhang (China), for the men’s doubles
-Ningyi Zhang/Yaqiong Huang (China) v Tianyi Pei/Xiaohan Yu (China), for the mixed doubles
-Yin Fun Lim (Malaysia) v Jinjing Qin (China), for the women’s singles
-Joo Ven Soong (Malaysia) v Song Xue (China), for the men’s singles

Dalton Woods
Olympics.com.au

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