Michelle Li of Canada and Halim Haryanto Ho of the U.S.A. became the only two of eight shuttlers to come through two quarter-final matches unscathed. Their teams are both assured of one gold and will each play for two more in the Pan Am Games finals, on Wednesday and Thursday.
By Don Hearn, Badzine Correspondent. Photos: Yves Lacroix for Badmintonphoto (archives)
Michelle Li (pictured) breezed through her women’s singles semi-final, beating the last Mexican singles shuttler in the competition, Victoria Montero, in just 14 minutes. However, Li was forced to play three games for the first time this tournament when she and partner Alex Bruce came back from a game down to defeat 2007 gold medallist Eva Lee and Paula Lynn Obanana 21-19 in the third game. They will play the Wang sisters for gold in Wednesday’s final. Iris and Rena got the better of Canada’s Grace Gao and Joycelyn Ko in the other semi-final.
The women’s singles will not be a contest between first and second seeds like the women’s doubles, however. Peru’s Claudia Rivero had already taken care of Rena Wang in the quarter-finals but could not find a way past Joycelyn Ko, who will now face Li for the Canadian gold.
While Michelle Li was already a double finalist at last year’s Pan Am Badminton Championships, new U.S. citizen Halim Haryanto Ho, is playing in his first championship for the Americas and he, too, is up for two golds. The men’s doubles features three former World Champions as Howard Bach (2005) and Tony Gunawan (2001, 2005) face Halim (2001), who is, in turn, playing with defending Pan Am Champion Sattawat Pongnairat.
Halim teams up with Eva Lee to face defending Pan Am Champions Toby Ng and Grace Gao, whom the Americans beat in the semi-finals of the recent Brazil International Challenge.
In men’s singles, four men were each fighting to defend their respective countries’ last hopes of gold and in the end it was top-seeded Kevin Cordon (pictured) of Guatemala who prevailed over Brazil’s Daniel Paiola. The longest match of the day, though, came when Cuba’s Osleni Guerrero eked out the 21-18, 18-21, 21-18 victory over Charles Pyne of Jamaica.