The day begun with Cai and Fu reaching the men’s doubles Olympic final and ended with a pair of gold medals for China with the injury of Wang Xin the only low point in a day riddled with success for the Chinese.
Gold For Li Xuerui
The form player in 2012 justified her selection for the Olympics ahead of Wang Shixian and won China’s second gold in two days. It was talent over willpower in the women’s singles match, with Wang Yihan’s talent failing to defeat Li Xuerui’s will to win in a three-game classic. Saina Nehwal claimed the bronze medal, but not in the way the Indian would have hoped as Wang Xin retired at the beginning of the second game after claiming the opening game. A knee-injury hindered Wang Xin’s movement before she crumbled on court after the opening point in the second game that forced her into retirement and gave Nehwal the bronze medal.
Tian and Zhao Claims Women’s Doubles Gold
There was a Chinese winner in the women’s doubles, but not the pair that many expected. With the group stage farce decimating the draw, it was the 2nd seeded Tian and Zhao who claimed gold – with Zhao Yunlei winning her second gold of the Olympics after her mixed doubles success. An easy first game victory for the Chinese required a response from the Japanese pairing of Fujii and Kakiiwa to ensure there wasn’t a Chinese rout. A tighter second game ensued, but the Chinese eventually took the second game 25-23 to ensure China’s third gold. Sorokina and Vislova took the bronze medal, after a one-sided victory over the Canadian pair of Bruce and Li.
Boe and Mogensen stun Lee and Chung
The “dream final” in the men’s doubles was put on hold for at least four years by the Danish pair of Boe and Mogensen who defeated Lee and Chung in a sensation men’s doubles semi final which will be a contender for match of the tournament. The Korean pair took an early lead, claiming the first game only for the Danes to respond and take the second game. After squandering a match point, Boe and Mogensen earned a second match point and a Mogensen lift was left by Lee Yong Dae, only for the shuttle to hit the lead and send the Danes into tomorrow’s final. Cai and Fu will be their opponents tomorrow, after the Chinese pair defeated Koo and Tan in a one-sided semi final that the Chinese pair took with their third match point to ensure their second successive Olympic final.
Day 8 Results:
The first medals were awarded as the mixed doubles reached it’s conclusion, with the current world champions claiming Olympic gold over their Chinese rivals and team mates.
Zhang and Zhao Claim Gold
The 2011 world champions became the 2012 Olympic champions, claim both titles inside Wembley Arena. Their opponents this time around were Xu and Ma, who were defeated in the semi finals 12 months previously. What many hoped would be a tightly fought contest were left disappointed, as Zhang and Zhao outclassed their Chinese team mates in a 21-11, 21-17 victory.
The bronze medal was won by Joachim Fischer Neilsen and Christinna Pedersen of Denmark, who defeated Ahmad and Natsir in another one-sided match to ensure at least one European medal, with the world number 4 pairing winning 21-12, 21-12.
All Chinese Finals In Women’s Singles
One space was guaranteed for the Chinese, as Wang Xin took on Li Xuerui in the second semi final. Wang Yihan ensured an all-Chinese final with an excellent two game victory over Saina Nehwal of India, with the world number 5 being the sole hope remaining to ensure there wouldn’t be a Chinese monopoly of the medals.
Li Xuerui continued her stunning form in 2012 with a two game victory over her higher ranked team mate Wang Xin in two tight games to book her place in the final against Wang Yihan. It will be their 8th meeting between the two, with Wang Yihan leading 4-3 but Li Xuerui has won the previous three occasions, with their last meeting being a two game victory in the Indonesian Super Series Premier.
Lee Against Lin
It will their 30th encounter between the top two players in the world in a repeat of the 2008 Olympic final as Lin Dan takes on Lee Chong Wei. Both players comfortably defeated their semi final opponents in two games, with Lee Chong Wei defeating Chen Long whilst Lin Dan defeated Lee Hyun Il.
It will be the first time in the sports history in the Olympics that the same two players will play for the gold medal in two consecutive Olympics in what could potentially be the final match of their historic rivalry.
The European dream of gold in London has faded with every passing day, but today was the end of any chances in the singles with the defeats of Tine Baun and Peter Gade.
Chen Long ended Peter Gade’s Olympic career with a classy two game victory over the Dane, who claimed after the match that he played some of his best badminton of the year in is defeat. Chen Long’s reward is a semi-final against the world number 1 Lee Chong Wei, who ended Kashyup Parupalli’s fairytale run at the Olympics in two games to ensure a medal for at least one of the two semi finalists.
Lin Dan secured his place in the semi final with a three game victory over Sho Sasaki, but any hopes of an all-Chinese semi final were derailed by Lee Hyun Il who ended Chen Jin’s campaign in a tight two game victory to book his place in the last 4.
The four best players in the world have all reached the semi final stage, with only the second seeded Wang Xin dropping a game in today’s matches. Wang Xin needed three games to end the run of the 17-year old Inthanon Ratchanok, who looks to be a star for the future for her native Thailand. Li Xuerui will take on Wang Xin in the semi finals after the 3rd seed defeated Yip Pui Yin of Hong Kong to reach the last 4.
Wang Yihan has a repeat performance in Wembley Arena against Cheng Shao Chieh in her semi final, with the Chinese top seed securing a straight forward two game victory to reach the semi finals. Saina Nehwal takes on the top seeded Chinese player in the last 4 after ending Tine Baun’s run at the quarter final stage, with the Dane celebrating a line call that would have won her the second game prematurely which resulted in Saina Nehwal saving multiple game points before winning the match on her first match point.
The top three pairs in the world all secured their place in the last 4, where they are also joined by the Commonwealth champions Koo and Tan of Malaysia. The unseeded Koo and Tan take on Cai and Fu in the first of the semi finals, with both pairs successfully negotiating their way into the last 4 with tight two game victories. Lee and Chung take on Boe and Mogensen in the second semi final, with both pairs also coming through their matches in two games to set up their 17th meeting against one another.
The impossible and improbable dream of Alex Bruce and Michelle Li almost became a reality, as they took Fujii and Kakiiwa to three games and booked their place in the bronze medal playoff. The Japanese pair will take on the world number 2 pairing of Tian and Zhao in Saturday’s gold medal match after the Chinese pair disposed of Vislova and Sorokina in a one-sided match.
The first medals will be won in tomorrow’s afternoon session as the two best pairs in the world face off in an all-Chinese gold medal match. Both pairs needed three games to defeat their opponents, with Fischer Neilsen and Pedersen taking on Ahmad and Natsir in the bronze medal match in the morning session. Xu and Ma will take on Zhang and Zhao in a rematch of the world championship semi final held in this arena a year ago. It will be their 11th meeting, with the defending world champions Zhang and Zhao winning 8 of their 10 meetings to date.
There were 4 eliminations before play even begun today, with the disqualification of all four pairs in the women’s doubles accused of match fixing. That allowed the 3rd and 4th placed pairs from Group A and C into the quarter finals at their expense.
An inspired Lee Chong Wei answered all of his critics in his second round masterclass against Simon Santoso, with the top seeded Malaysian comfortably booking his place in the last 8 with a two game victory. Kashyup Parupalli awaits the top seed in the quarter finals, with the Indian defeating Sri Lanka’s Niluka Karunaratne in three games to offer India a second hope of a medal in the singles events.
The last 16 saw exits for Jan O Jorgensen, Marc Zwiebler, Kevin Cordon and most noticably Taufik Hidayat who was defeated by Lin Dan in his final Olympic appearance of the Indonesian’s career. Chen Long and Chen Jin ensured a trio of Chinese players in the last 8, with the 3rd seeded Chen Long taking on Peter Gade in the quarter finals in what could be Gade’s final appearance at the Olympics also.
The biggest casualty of the last 16 was Germany’s Juliane Schenk, with Inthanon Ratchanok ending the run of the 6th seed at the second round in a two game victory for the 9th seeded Thai. Yip Pui Yin defeated Pi Honygan to further reduce any chance of European success, the unseeded player from Hong Kong takes on the 3rd seeded Li Xuerui in the quarter finals.
Wang Yihan faught back from a game down to ensure her place in the last 8 at the expense of Bae Youn Joo and set up a world championship rematch from last year against Cheng Shao Chieh. Tine Baun became the final European player left in the draw after Sayaka Sato retired from their match whilst leading 15-14 but the Danes task in the quarter final will be much harder as Baun takes on Saina Nehwal in the last 8. The Indian 4th seed defeated Yao Jie of Holland to reach the quarter finals and set up a matchup against Baun.
Without winning a game in Group A, Michelle Li and Alex Bruce are into the semi finals of the women’s doubles after a two game victory over Australia’s Veeran and Choo to set up their match against Fujii and Kakiiwa of Japan. The 4th seeded Japanese pair ended the run of Denmark’s Rytter Juhl and Pedersen in two games to set up their semi final against the Canadians.
The other semi final features Vislova and Sorokina, who came third in Group A but defeated Viljoen and Edwards to reach the last 4 and take on the 2nd seeded Tian and Zhao of China, who defeated Cheng and Chien of Chinese Taipei in two games.
The four seeded pairs remain in the mixed doubles, with Xu and Ma coming closest to elimination after surviving a match point in order to defeat Mateusiak and Zieba of Poland. Their reward for victory is a semi final match against Ahmad and Natsir, who defeated Fuchs and Michels in two games to book safe passage into the last 4.
Fischer Neilsen and Pedersen are the sole European hope, after their victory over Prapakamol and Thoungthongkam of Thailand but will take on the current world champions Zhang and Zhao who ended the campaign of the 2009 world champions and Danish team mates Laybourn and Rytter Juhl.
The great British dream ended at the group stages, but the show must go on. 32 players and 24 pairs remain to fight for five gold medals as the world’s elite face one another to edge ever closer to a medal.
Simon Santoso is the latest player to have his chance at Lee Chong Wei, with a pair of impressive victories whilst the top seed struggled past Ville Lang and the rest of the field now know what Lee Chong Wei’s limitations are. The other side of the draw offers the match of the day tomorrow, as the 2008 Olympic champion Lin Dan takes on the 2004 Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat in what could be the Indonesian’s final match of his historic career.
Another player in the twilight of his career is Peter Gade, who takes on Shon Wan Ho in his second round encounter with the winner of Wong Wing Ki and Chen Long waiting in the last 8. Two more Europeans will hope to keep a continents dream alive as Jan O Jorgensen and Marc Zwiebler take on higher seeded Asian opponents tomorrow, with the Dane taking on Lee Hyun Il whilst the German takes on the 4th seeded Chen Jin.
Only Wang Yihan and Wang Xin had the luxury of a group of two, the other 14 women had to progress from groups of 3 with only two seeds falling at the opening hurdle. One of those seeds was Petya Nedelcheva, who was knocked out by Indonesia’s Adrianti Firdasari – who takes on the 2nd seed, Wang Xin in the second round. The top seeded Wang Yihan takes on Bae Youn Joo of Korea in her last 16 match, with a potential world championship rematch with Cheng Shao Chieh waiting in the quarter finals.
Saina Nehwal and Tine Baun are just one victory away from facing one another at the last 8 stage. The Indian takes on Yao Jie in her second round match whilst Baun takes on Sayako Sato of Japan. Yip Pui Yin is the only other unseeded player left in the draw after defeating Sung Ji Hyun in the group stages, the Hong Kong player takes on Pi Hongyan for a place in the last 8.
With the group stages complete, the manipulation of the draw will cease and a winner will be crowned. The marquee match of the day sees the top seeded Wang and Yu take on the 3rd seeded Ha and Kim, with the top seeds losing their final group game to ensure they could not take on their Chinese team-mates until the final. Tian and Zhao take on Chien and Cheng of Chinese Taipei in the half of the draw where they are the only seeds in it, whilst the final seeds – Fujii and Kakiiwa take on the Danish pair of Rytter Juhl and Pedersen, who topped Group D.
The four seeds all won their group and will avoid playing one another at least for another round but there is a refreshing mix of pairs left in the draw but without the defending champion Lee Yong Dae. Four European pairs take on four Asian pairs for a battle of continental supremacy with the 2011 world champions Zhang and Zhao taking on the 2009 world champions Laybourn and Rytter Juhl for a place in the last 4 and a potential all-Danish semi final. 4th seeded Fischer Neilsen and Pedersen take on the Thai pairing of Prapakamol and Thoungthongkam for a place in the last 4 as the only European seed hope to keep European hopes alive.
Xu and Ma take on current European champions, Mateusiak and Zieba of Germany whilst the 4th quarter final features the 3rd seeded Ahmad and Natsir taking on the German pairing of Fuchs and Michels, the higher ranked left in the draw at 22.
Updated with video:
Faster, Higher, Stronger. The motto of the Olympics were tarnished and shamed with the performance of Wang Xiaoli, Yu Yang, Kim Ha Na and Jung Kyung Eun. With top spot on offer in Group A, the two pairs gave one of the most disgraceful performances in the history of the sport and both capitulated resulting in neither pair wanting to win.
It was about how fast the Chinese pair could get off could, how high they think of themselves against the rest of the field and how strong they believed in the actions they chose to do on court. From when the Chinese pair took to the court after their introductions until both pair were viciously booed off court took under 30 minutes.
The warm-up offered no clue as to what lay ahead, as Kim served to Wang to start the match.
Wang Xiaoli clumsily drives Kim’s opening serve into the net to begin proceedings. Yu Yang signals with her right hand to Wang Xiaoli as she shadows a drive motion.
Yu Yang plays a lazy net shot from waist height into the net, before looking to the ground to suggest she thought it might have been short.
Kim Ha Na serves into the net.
Yu Yang’s serve is taken at knee-high by Jung, resulting in a mediocre drop from Wang that hits the bottom of the net, resulting in the Chinese player looking at the lights and claiming that was the reason for the poor shot.
Jung Kyung Eun flick serves down the line to Yu Yang, whilst the Chinese player watches the shuttle drop in before looking at the line judge for confirmation. The replay shows it was more than 3 inches in.
Jung serves to Wang, who pushes a full swing lift to the back which Kim soft drops back to the service line only for Yu Yang to half-push the shuttle into the middle of the net. The first boos ring out from the crowd at this point, with that being the longest rally of the match at 4 strokes.
Jung serves to Yu, who plays a knee-high lift to around three quarters deep into the Korean court whilst moving backwards resulting in a lazy drop from Kim landing in the middle of the net.
Wang serves to Kim, who plays an attacking push to the mid-court for a winner. Yu Yang looks to her partner whilst the Korean pair celebrate a winning point for the first time in the match.
Kim Ha Na is called for a service fault and offers a half-hearted motion of her service motion to the service judge.
Yu Yang serves into the net.
Jung serves to Yu, who drives the shuttle at Kim resulting in a drop return that clips the top of the cord that barely affects the shuttle but results in a push from Yu Yang going into the net.
Jung Kyung Eun is called for a service fault. She makes no attempt to contest the call.
Wang serves to Jung, who plays a knee-high lift deep into Yu Yang’s backhand corner. Yu plays a mid-court backhand clear into the centre of the court that Kim smashes into the middle of the net. Groans are heard throughout the arena.
Wang serves to Kim, who plays an flat lift almost off the carpet which Yu Yang looks certain to hit before realising just how far out the shot actually is.
Wang Xiaoli serves into the middle of the net. Ending the 3-point run of the Chinese pair.
Kim serves to Yu, who in a similar fashion to an earlier serve, plays a weak net shot that barely reaches the net. More whistles and jeers are heard.
Kim flicks Wang, who takes one step before lunging to dig-out a shot into the bottom of the net.
The mid-game interval shows the Korean coach complaining to the umpire about the Chinese “tactics” whilst the Chinese coaches spend around 15 seconds speaking to both players before returning to their chairs.
Kim Ha Na serves into the net.
Yu serves to Kim, who plays an attacking shot into the backhand rear corner of Wang, resulting in a weak drop to the middle of the court that Kim lifts out of the side of the court and lands on the carpet.
Yu Yang serves into the net. She shakes her head before firing the shuttle in between Jung’s legs to boos and jeers of the crowd.
Jung Kyung Eun serves into the net, whilst Yu Yang claims not to be ready for the serve. Jung Kyung Eun serves the next service – a flick serve out.
Wang Xiaoli serves into the net. It is at this point that the umpire finally gets involved, motioning all the players towards him to show his discontent at the match to date.
13-9 to 14-11
All four players take turns at serving into the net. The crowd have turned on both pairs, with sarcastic groans as well as general annoyance at the passage of play.
Kim Ha Na flicks her service out.
Yu Yang serves into the net. Yu Yang, as she had done for most of the first game begins a conversation with Wang Xiaoli who seemed the most bothered by what is transpiring on court.
At this point, one of the officials comes onto court to issue a warning to both players:
“We are here to play, to compete. If you don’t play, both teams can be disqualified, both teams can be disqualified and go out of the competition. Understand?”
.Jung serves to Wang, who for the first time in the match attacks a serve and hits a cross net winner. Cheers ring out from the crowd.
Wang Xiaoli serves into the net and promptly looks at her racket.
Expectations of more than a four shot rally are heightened, before Yu Yang hits a backhand shot that flies under the net. The Korean coach stands up and looks unimpressed.
Kim Ha Na serves off the carpet. The biggest boos of the match so far are heard.
Yu Yang serves into the net. Yet more boos are heard.
Hopes for another lengthy rally are quashed by Yu Yang’s drive flying into the net as the Chinese player seems to be instigating most of the tactics. The Chinese coaches look relaxed on their chairs as they watch the world number 1 pair face six game points.
Another four shot rally ends the opening game, with Wang pushing a shot into the top half of the net to ensure their defeat in the first game.
The first game interval sees the Korean coach sarcastically applaud Wang and Yu as he goes to speak to his players. The Chinese coaches spend 15 seconds conversing with Wang and Yu whilst the official reappears and threatens to disqualify both teams.
Both pairs appear back on court before the line judges have finished sweeping the court, almost a minute before the interval is over.
The second game is a more “competitive” contest, with the service faults disappearing and the average rally length almost tripling from the opening game. The Chinese lose the second game, with Yu Yang instigating most of the points that the world number 1 pairing lost.
The overall tone was one of a complete lack of care or respect at what they were doing and has put a black cloud over the rest of the competition.
Yu Yang later confirmed that their actions on course were to ensure an easier passage into the late rounds and that the pair had already qualified so there was no need to expend extra energy. It also meant that the Chinese pairs couldn’t meet until the final.
A second match was surrounded in controversy between Ha and Kim who took on Jauhari and Polii, with the winning pair set to take on Wang and Yu. Both pairs were black carded and were disqualified before being recinded and the 3rd seeded Ha and Kim won the match.
Tonight’s farce will almost ensure the end of group stages at major competitions, with the manipulation of the draw on show this evening. Several high-profile players have spoken out against the two matches, with some claiming that disqualification is the only option as given a similar situation the players would do it again and again.
The real loser tonight is badminton – it will make the headlines for all the wrong reasons as the competitions enters its knockout phase as the world’s elite pairings have somewhat successfully rigged a draw to ensure the possibility for gold and silver in certain events.
There were just 64 shots played in the opening game, with a passage of 9 consecutive service errors where the match referee was on court twice.
There are no winners tonight. Badminton must attempt to recover some pride in the remaining five days of play.
The big names in the men’s and women’s singles finally made their entrances to the Olympics on day 3, with a few scares and surprises along the way as the group stage entered the latter stages before Wednesday’s knockout rounds.
Session 1 – Tago Crashes Out
The top two seeds in the women’s singles both begun their campaigns in the opening sessions, as Wang Yihan and Wang Xin progressed safely into the last 16 with a pair of comprehensive victories. The biggest shock of the men’s singles so far took place this morning, as the 8th seeded Kenichi Tago crashed out at the hands of Sri Lanka’s Niluka Karunaratne, ranked 40 places higher than his Japanese opponent.
Tian and Zhao as well as Fischer Nielsen and Pedersen edged closer to qualification with victories in their second group matches whilst Kim and Jung secured their place in the last 16 in Group A of the women’s doubles, with a final group match against Wang and Yu to confirm first and second in the group.
Session 2 – Lin Dan Into Last 16
Lin Dan begun his campaign against Ireland’s Scott Evans in a one-sided match to book his place in the last 16 whilst Yip Pui Yin shocked the 8th seeded Sung Ji Hyun to top Group J and reach the last 16. Lee Yong Dae’s defence of the mixed doubles ended with a defeat to Laybourn and Rytter Juhl, which secured the Danes progression into the quarter finals.
The fate of Group B in the men’s doubles hung in the balance as Logosz and Cwalina were in a three-game battle with Jongjit and Issara of Thailand before an injury to Michal Logosz resulted in the end of the match and the end of the Olympics for the Polish pair. They have forfeited their final match against Ahsan and Septano which eliminates the 4th seeded Ko and Yoo from the Olympics.
Session 3 – Lee Chong Wei Survives Scare
The “state secret” over Lee Chong Wei’s ankle was revealed on court this evening, with a far from convincing three game victory over Finland’s Ville Lang which will ask more questions than it will answer with the Malaysian looking out of sorts on court. Peter Gade is safely into the last 16 with a two game victory over Portugal’s Pedro Martins.
Saina Nehwal, Juliane Schenk and Chen Jin all booked their places in the last 16 of their events – with all three players securing top spot in their groups with routine two game victories. Ko and Yoo became Korea’s third big name exit of the day with defeat to Ahsan and Septano to ensure the Indonesian’s place in the last 8.
Day 4 will end the group phase and potentially some careers of the likes of Taufik Hidayat could be in action for the last time whilst the long-awaited rematch between Zhang and Zhao taking on the British pairing of Bankier and Adcock is for nothing more than pride for the British pair.
Day 3 Results:
The dream of going one better for Adcock and Bankier inside Wembley Arena lasted a mere two days. For some players, it was the start of their campaign but for others the dream has already ended in London..
Session 1 – Adcock & Bankier Out
The home crowd hoped for a reversal from yesterday’s match, but instead it was the same story as their group opener. Adcock and Bankier claimed the opening game against Fuchs and Michels before losing in three games to render their final group match against Zhang and Zhao meaningless. For Li and Bruce, it was another brutal defeat in the women’s doubles – this time it was the Korean pair of Kim and Jung the inflicted their second defeat in Group A and ensured their elimination.
Sho Sasaki and Lee Hyun Il began their campaigns with identical victories – 21-12, 21-7 to book their places in the last 16. Ahmad and Natsir booked their place in the mixed doubles quarterfinals with a two game victory over Lee and Ha of Korea, who will need to win their next two matches to have any chance of progressing.
Session 2 – Jongjit & Issara Impressive
The Thai pairing of Jongjit and Issara came into the Olympics as the world number 19 pairing but have progressed in the last 8 of the men’s doubles with a victory over Ko and Yoo, their third victory against the Korean pair. Another pair safely into the last 8 is the Malaysian pair of Koo and Tan – whose victory over Bach and Gunawan eliminated the American pair.
Zhang and Zhao booked their place in the last 8 in the mixed doubles with a two game victory over Nikolaenko and Sorokina, whilst Laybourn and Rytter Juhl opened up their campaign in Group C of the mixed doubles with a victory over V and Gutta of India to end any chances of them qualifying for the last 8.
Saina Nehwal began her campaign in impressive fashion, defeating Sabrina Jaquet 21-9, 21-4 to join Lianne Tan at the top of Group E. Sayako Sato set up her winner-take-all match with Susan Egelstaff after the 12th seed defeated Maya Tvrdy in two tight games to join the Brit at the top of Group H
Session 3 – Boe & Mogensen Survive Scare
Wang and Yu made it two impressive victories in a row with their win over Vislova and Sorokina to top Group A. There were three more Chinese victories as Xu and Ma started their mixed doubles campaign with a win over Chan and Goh of Malaysia whilst her Spanish opponent Carolina Marin tested Li Xuerui before the 3rd seed eventually won in two games. Cai and Fu completed the Chinese success story with a two game victory over Kindervater and Scholettler but needed to save three game points in the first game.
Cai and Fu’s main rivals in the men’s doubles, Lee and Chung came through in two games against Sato and Kawamae of Japan. The lasting image of the match with being Naoki Kawamae’s smash in the first game that broke his racket with the force of the shot. Boe and Mogensen survived a real scare against the world number 18 pairing of Ivanov and Sozonov as they dropped the first game and were two points away from defeat. However, the Danes fought back to take the second game and were never in any danger in the third game and secured qualification into the last 8.
Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl resurrected their chances of reaching the last 8 of the women’s doubles with a three game battle over Poon and Tse of Hong Kong to set up a Tuesday morning clash with the world number 2 pairing of Tian and Zhao. Rajiv Ouseph was GB’s sole victory on the day he defeated Henri Hurkainen in three games in one of the last matches of the session. Ouseph takes on Guatemala’s Kevin Cordon for the top spot in Group M on Tuesday afternoon.
The group stages for the badminton were one of the first events to begin on Day 1 of the Olympics, with every player understanding that whilst the gold couldn’t be won today – any chance of winning it could be lost on the opening days play.
Session 1 – Heartbreak For GB & Denmark
Ahmad and Natsir began play on the opening day, with the 3rd seeds in the mixed doubles defeating V and Gutta of India in two games to start their campaign in the best possible way. Bae Yeon Ju survived an first game scare against Tee Jung Yi to win her match in three games whilst the current European champion pairing of Mateusiak and Zieba defeated Ikeda and Shiota for the first time to win their mixed doubles opener in Group B.
The second and third matches of the session brought the biggest surprises, with Maeda and Suetsuna defeating the Danish pair of Pedersen and Rytter Juhl to top Group D in the women’s doubles. The world silver medalists in the mixed doubles, Adcock and Bankier suffered a three game defeat to the Russian pair of Nikolaenko and Sorokina to make their qualification chances increasingly difficult, with a victory over Zhang and Zhao almost certainly needed to progress to the last 8.
Zhao Yunlei was on an adjacent court in her women’s doubles opener with Tian Qing, with the Chinese pair needing just two games to defeat the Hong Kong pair of Poon and Tse
Session 2 – No Problem For The Seeds
GB got their first victory of the day, with Susan Egelstaff defeating Maja Tvrdy in two games to make her match with Sayaka Sato all the more important. Cwalina and Logosz had the makings of a surprise against Ko and Yoo, before the Korean’s eventually found their form and won the match in three games.
Li Xuerui defeated Claudia Rivero easily to take top spot in Group L, whilst in the men’s singles Shon Wan Ho and Taufik Hidayat both won their opening group games, with Hidayat defeating Petr Koukal 21-8, 21-8 to signal his intend for the week ahead.
Ha and Kim won their Group C opener in the women’s doubles against the South African pair of Viljoen and Edwards whilst in Group D, Fujii and Kakiiwa defeated Gutta and Ponnappa to top Group B. The Group B mixed doubles has two Europeans in the qualfication spots, with Denmark’s Fischer Neilsen and Pedersen defeating Canada’s Ng and Gao to win their first match within the group.
Session 3 – Top Seeds Start Perfectly
Wang and Yu were never in any trouble in their Group A opener against Li and Bruce, winning in two games to top the group. Zhang and Zhao joined Nikolaenko and Sorokina at the top of Group A in the mixed doubles with an impressive two game victory over Fuchs and Michels.
The top three pairs in the men’s doubles, with Cai and Fu beginning their campaign and Smith and Warfe of Australia, headlined the session. The Chinese pair never looked in any danger as they defeated the world number 38 pairing in two games. The 2005 world champions – USA’s Bach and Gunawan, tested Lee and Chung in their Group D opener. The second seeded Korean’s progressed in two games to sit atop Group D with Koo and Tan.
Denmark recovered from their women’s doubles defeat with a pair of victories in the final session. Boe and Mogensen defeated the South African pair of James and Viljoen in two games to top Group C in the men’s doubles whilst in the men’s singles Jan O Jorgensen defeated Israel’s Misha Zilberman to top Group I, with a match with Derek Wong on Tuesday night to book his place in the last 16.
Day 1 Results:
Michael Jordan. Roger Federer. Muhammed Ali. Tiger Woods.
Lin Dan could join the echelons of sporting greats with a victory on August 5 in Wembley Arena. Regardless of badminton’s stigma as a minority sport – especially in Europe, Lin Dan’s achievements transcend his sport with the magnitude of his success. A superstar in his native China, he is already a 4-time world champion and reigning Olympic champion but he plays for something that no player before him can boast nor claim.
Retaining his Olympic title will make him an immortal of the sport and he will become the benchmark of what can be achieved within badminton. His victory in Beijing four years ago was shrouded in controversy before the Olympics began. A bust-up with his national coach; Ji Xinpeng had fans and media questioning his selection for the 2008 Olympics.
The bust-up was over practice matches and Lin Dan’s thirst for success, even in training. His attitude and outbursts divided fans of the sport, with some claiming he was simply spoiled in China, although he was revered as a sporting superstar for a population of over one and a half billion.
His “bad boy” status within the game has always received mixed appraisals but in Beijing four years ago, he produced one of the single greatest performances the sport had ever seen. He played with arrogance and with an aura of the best player in the world, in his home nation with almost a quarter of the world’s population hoping for a Chinese gold.
What he provided in the final was an absolute master class. All of his antics off the court forgotten for one night when he destroyed Lee Chong Wei 21-12, 21-8 in the most one-sided of their 29 matches. He could have gone into the second game interval 11-0 up if not for a careless cross net shot clipping the cord.
His salute upon victory to all four corners of the capacity stadium was a symbol of being a solider of his nation, China but also for the crowd to accept who he was – a player that thrives on success. He would do anything to succeed whether it was the right or wrong way to conduct himself.
Immortality would be assured with a gold medal in London but defeat would paint a different picture. It is known that anyone could beat any other person on any given day. Even the great Lin Dan is mortal and could be defeated. Defeat would open up the subject of who is the greatest player in the world. Rightly or wrongly, at this point, if the Malaysian Lee Chong Wei was to win gold in London, then he too would have to be considered.
Recent times have seen a change in Lin Dan. Instead of rackets or a punch being thrown, his shirt has been thrown into the crowd, for example at the Thomas Cup in May or at Beijing four years previously. The calming influence of his wife, Xie Xingfang has been credited with his change in temperament.
Lin Dan will make the trip to Shaoshan to pray for the legendary Chinese leader – Mao Zedong’s blessing. In 2004, before the Athens Olympics, he took this trip for granted, choosing to remain in the team bus playing cards. He then promptly lost in the opening round. Learning this valuable lesson, he is now one of the first Chinese Olympians to seek the blessing of Mao Zedong.
Some feel it is perhaps a blessing to have such a player in our lifetimes, whilst others claim he is a spoilt child blessed with a gift. He will arrive in London with countless nicknames, one half of the “Condor Couple” with Xie Xingfang, “Super Dan”, Lieutenant Colonel in the People’s Liberation Army, world number 1 and also favourite for the title in London.
His only wish is for one name, 2012 Olympic Champion.
Immortality will follow soon after.