Archive for July, 2012

Image courtesy of Badminton Photo

As a badminton journalist I have the privilege to have witnessed some great games over the past 10 years or so in my travels. Highlights such as Tine Rasmussens win over Wang Yihan at the All England in 2008, and Henri Hurskainen beating the great Peter Gade at the Europeans this year in Sweden spring to mind as classic encounters.

Little did I know that lasts nights encounter between Ville Lang of Finland and World number 2 Lee Chong Wei was going to have the same impact.

Ville had told me before the game that he was feeling good and training had being going well and he had come into these games in a confident mood. The Finn always has a swagger about him but watching him over the last few days I knew that he was ready and that more importantly he was ready to put it up to Chong Wei.

He has spent some time in Germany and had been sparring with Marc Zwiebler and was brimming with confidence after some good performances in training against the German.

All that said the majority still believed that this would be a walk in the park for the world number 2. As it transpired it proved to be far from easy for Chong Wei. The scene was set for an epic with a full house and the match being the only game on court and on the middle of the three courts at that.

Ville has always been a flamboyant character and the crowd soon realised this and got firmly behind him.

Chong Wei took the first game easily and many thought the writing was on the wall for the Finn but some Lang came storming back to shock the entire badminton world by taking the second game 21-14.

The crowd at this point really started to play their part with shouts of FINLAND FINLAND reverberating around the stadium and Ville just breathe it all in and lived off their enthusiasm.

“The crowd were immense. This is what we dream about and these are the games we all want to be involved in. I love these situations” said Lang.

The third set was as tight as you could imagine up until 11-11. Ville was in the match and a sluggish Chong Wei had to be worried. But all of a sudden the Malaysian found another gear and Lang suffered a mental lapse of concentration. It was clear also that the heat was a factor and Ville appeared to wilt. Chong Wei rattled off the remaining 10 points to take the match but while he won the crowd stood and applauded the endeavour of the Flamboyant Finn.

“Unfortunately I lost but this was the best match of my career and WOW I enjoyed it. Absolutely Immense”

What a match and what an atmosphere. This one goes into my memory bank as one of those games I will never forget.

Magee in action againt Hosny

Ok Ok Ok I know this is probably pushing the boat out to far but as a proud Irishman there is nothing that compares to seeing one of your own be successful so on a personal note watching Chloe Magee win her first match at the 2012 Olympics was the highlight of day 2. And this is my blog so I can write what I want to write….right?

It was a mental test for Chloe as she had to deal with the crazy atmosphere in the hall as GB’s Rajiv Ouseph was playing on the adjoining court. The hall, throughout the day got warmer and warmer so by the time Chloe came on court, an hour later than scheduled, the on court temperatures were almost unbearable.

I have been around the badminton block a few times and I dont ever remember feeling as nervous before any match as I did for this game and all I was doing was sitting there watching so I can only imagine how Chloe Magee felt.

It was a nervy and edgy start for Chloe as the first set ebbed and flowed but the Raphoe girl never really looked in trouble and the 21-17 score line slightly flattered her opponent Hosny from Egypt.

“I had been bussing around all day and the hour delay did not help matters. For a while I found it hard as the crowd were so noisy supporting Raj on the court next to me” Chloe explained after her victory.

Once the first game was in the bag Magee settled and the second game was over before it began. A 21-6 win and Chloe had achieved what she set out to achieve.

“The second set went much more according to plan and even though there were GB flags everywhere for Rajiv I could see so many Irish flags also which really spurred me on.”

Looking ahead Magee was not giving much away about the group showdown with Pi Hongyan of France. Chloe played Hongyan at the Irish International back in December and could have beaten the French number 1 on that occasion but one thing is clear this is a huge opportunity now for her to progress.

“When I looked at the draw I saw it as a real opportunity. I could not have expected anything better. But Hongyan has been at the top of world badminton for a decade and I have never beaten her”

I am sure Chloe will be keeping an eye on the Hongyan V Hosny match today as part of her preparation for the group showdown. The match is sure to give everyone an indication in relation to the French woman’s form after a year that has been plagued by injury.

Right….I’m off as its time to inflate the big plastic hammer again. Another big day in store for Irish badminton as its Scott Evans against a little known Chinese by the name of Lin Dan.

A struggle for the British pair at Olympics

What a difference a year makes. From winning silver at the World championships in 2011 to being knocked out of your home Olympics before the group stage has even concluded and all these emotions experienced in the one Arena.

It has been a really tough 2 days from Chris Adcock and Imogen Bankier and seeing Imogen crying after her defeat was tough to watch.  Not long after Sabrina Jaquet was almost unable to speak to me after her defeat to Saina Nehwal as the emotion of the moments and the event coursed through her veins.

You can read about the day’s happenings in Wembley by clicking HERE

Photo by Yves Lacroix for Badminton Photo

Olympics Day 1 – Anu & Lianne both first time winners but under different circumstances

Both Anu Nieminen and Lianne Tan experienced the sweet taste of victory on day 1 of the Olympics games but both under completely different circumstances.

Anu, competing in her fourth games, finally got off the mark with a victory over Victoria Montero of Mexico after losing is successive games since her debut back in Sydney in 2000. In contrast Lianne Tan playing in her first ever Olympic match beat fellow European Sabrina Jaquet to give her the perfect confidence boost going into her final group match against Saina Nehwal.

To read all about Anu’s victory and other Olympic news click HERE for my daily BWF roundup. Follow all the action on the BWF website with input from a host of diverse writers during the games.

Pretty in Pink

Finally the wait is over. The Olympic badminton has kicked off and already some upsets as the Russians take down the fancied GB pair of Adcock and Bankier in the mixed doubles and Pedersen and Juhl fall at the hands of the Japanese in the women’s doubles. Before the action commenced the packed Wembley Arena was treated to a ‘left of centre’ lazer shown the like I have certainly never seen before at a badminton Tournament.

To view a small snippet of the dazzling  simply click HERE