OLYMPICS 2008 Day 3 : Flashes of Brilliance

Now you see them, and now you don’t. As compared to the female shuttlers at the morning session of the third day of the 29th Beijing Olympic Games, the evening […]

Now you see them, and now you don’t. As compared to the female shuttlers at the morning session of the third day of the 29th Beijing Olympic Games, the evening ladies came and went in a flash.

By Jan Lin, reporting live from Beijing (BIMC). Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

In the morning session, the women shuttlers treated the spectators to 4 exhilarating tiebreaker matches and 3 seeds fell by the wayside in the process. Before spectators could warm their seats in the evening, the equally brilliant female shuttlers were already on their way back to the dressing room after nailing quick victories.

Germany’s Xu Huaiwen started the ball rolling when she chastened fellow European veteran Tracey Hallam (pictured bottom right) 21-10, 21-7 in just 27 minutes. The 7th-seeded German held a consistent 9-point lead in the first game and she raced to a 11-0 half-time lead in the 2nd game to completely outplay the 2006 Commonwealth Games champion in the round of 16 this evening.

Now standing in the way of Xu’s hunt for Olympic glory is the Chinese world #1 Xie Xingfang, who had the tightest women’s singles match this evening. Xie took two games of 21-16, 21-15 to dispose of the Belarus heroine Olga Konon, who gave the top seed a good run for her money.

Xie’s junior compatriot, 21-year-old Lu Lan, sang to Xu Huaiwen’s tune when she swiftly ended Canadian Anna Rice’s Olympic journey in straight games 21-7, 21-12. Malaysia golden girl Wong Mew Choo (Main photo) also took very little time in registering her name for the quarter-finals as she overcame a slow start to eventually see off Bulgaria’s Petya Nedelcheva 21-16, 21-8.

Women’s Doubles of an East Asian Flavour

The remaining 3 women’s doubles quarter-final matches were also far less dramatic than the pulsating one that began the day. The 2 remaining Chinese pairs of Wei Yili/Zhang Yawen and Du Jing/Yu Yang (pictured top left) were hardly threatened by their neighbouring opponents hailing from Chinese Taipei and Japan respectively.

Wei/Zhang blew away the current world number 5 pair of Cheng Wen-Hsing and Chien Yu-Chin in two straightforward games 21-14, 21-18. Meanwhile the fun-loving Chinese pair of Du/Yu avenged the earlier loss to Japan by their veteran compatriots by embarrassing Kumiko Ogura/Reiko Shiota 21-8, 21-5 and this also ensured that China will be represented in the final on Friday as Du/Yu will be meeting Wei/Zhang in the semis.

It has been 12 years since the women’s doubles event at the Olympic Games has avoided an all-Chinese final and 16 years since a non-Chinese pair has taken the Olympic women’s doubles crown after badminton was recognised as an official medal sport at the 1992 Barcelona Games.

In the 1992 and 1996 Games, the Korean ladies were the Chinese arch nemesis. Korea bagged the 1992 women’s doubles crown through Hwang Hye Young and Chung So  Young but in 1996, the Korean pair of Gil Young Ah and Jang Hye Ock was not good enough for the legendary Chinese pair of Ge Fei and Gu Jun in the women’s doubles final.

There is now a 50-50 chance for the Koreans to revive Korea’s women’s doubles heyday, as the current world number 4 Korean pair of Lee Hyo Jung and Lee Kyung Won has checked into the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games semi-finals after a comfortable 21-15, 21-12 victory over Singapore’s Jiang Yanmei and Li Yujia this evening.

Lee Kyung-won has already won a bronze medal with Ra Kyung Min at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games but the 28-year-old is far from contented, Lee revealed, “I may own a bronze medal from Athens, but I definitely hope to go for the crown this time.”

Lee’s partner 27-year-old Lee Hyo Jung was a quarter-finalist at the 2004 Games with Hwang Yu Mi.  She added, “I’m in tip-top condition. I really desire to clinch the women’s doubles gold medal.” Lee Hyo Jung will also be represented in the mixed doubles event with Korean wonderboy Lee Yong Dae.

Lee/Lee’s semi-final opponent is the world number 8 pair of Miyuki Maeda and Satoko Suetsuna, who checked out the top seed Yang Wei/Zhang Jiewen earlier in the day. Not only do the Japanese have a 10-hour head-start on the Koreans in resting for Tuesday’s match, Maeda/Suetsuna are also coached by the legendary Korean Park Joo Bong, who might understand the Korean ladies a little too well.

For all Day 3 results, click HERE

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