OLYMPICS Day 6 – Back up for the heavy hitters

The semi-final line-up for the Olympic men’s doubles competition will feature the usual suspects after a quartet of  wins for the four favoured pairs on Thursday morning.  All in straight […]

The semi-final line-up for the Olympic men’s doubles competition will feature the usual suspects after a quartet of  wins for the four favoured pairs on Thursday morning.  All in straight games, these four contests featured quality on-court minutes over quantity.

By Don Hearn, Badzine Correspondent.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (archives)

Men’s doubles was the only doubles discipline at the London that was just getting around to its quarter-final stage on Thursday morning.  All four matches may have ended in less than 45 minutes in favour of the higher-ranked pair, but these were not foregone conclusions when the day’s play began.

Young Thais Bodin Issara and Maneepong Jongjit (pictured) struggled to find their form against Malaysian veterans Koo Kien Keat / Tan Boon Heong.  Things looked dire mid-way through the second game but the youngsters kept their intensity high and kept chipping away at the Malaysians’ lead until they trailed by two at 17-19.  On the first of a possible three game points, Jongjit was caught at the front but scrambled to the back for a diving save that left the Malaysians so shocked that Issara was left to smash to a wide open corner.  However, Issara’s attack failed him and his smash into the net sealed Koo/Tan’s 21-16, 21-18 victory.

Chinese Taipei’s Fang/Lee similarly failed in their bid to add a new flag to the list of historical Olympic men’s doubles semi-finalists.  They went down by identical scores to two-time Superseries Finals champions Mathias Boe / Carsten Mogensen (pictured).

“They’re more experienced than us and we were nervous today,” said Lee Sheng Mu afterward.  “We just tried our best.”

“We spoke a lot about their style before the match. We tried to take the pace out of the rallies, as they are particularly good at that,” said Carsten Mogensen.  “They also like to serve fast and they didn’t like having to think about it too much, as we slowed the match down. Our key to success really was to relax.

“The pressure is very high. We read the newspapers back in Denmark and we know that we are the biggest medal hope in Danish badminton now. We tried to relax today and just take it one game at a time, but the pressure is huge at the moment.”

“Badminton is a big sport in Denmark. We are a small country of five million against some of the largest countries in the world,” added Mathias Boe.  “It’s very impressive and an honour for us to represent our country.

“We said from the beginning that our aim was to make the last four and we’ve done that now, so now we’ll just go out and enjoy it.”

The match they were destined to enjoy turned out to be a nineteenth and final encounter with world #1’s Jung Jae Sung (pictured) and Lee Yong Dae of Korea.  The Koreans dominated the second half of their first game against Indonesia’s Bona Septano / Mohammed Ahsan but were put on the defensive more in the second game.

The Koreans rose to the defensive challenge, however, and finally late in the game accomplished enough reversals that they were able to close out the match 21-12, 21-16.

“The opposition had weaker power than us so it was easier to attack them,”  said Lee Yong Dae after his match.

Asked to comment on the women’s doubles controversy that saw both Korean pairs ejected from the tournament, Lee replied, “I don’t care about what happened. I feel sorry about the people who were disqualified but I have to just concentrate on my game.”

The other quarter-final was an all-China contest.  Also a hard-hitting battle, this one saw the top seeds Cai Yun / Fu Haifeng advance to take on Koo/Tan.  The Malaysians have only beaten Cai/Fu once in the last eight meetings but once is all they need to see their way into their first Olympic final.

Click here for complete Thursday results

Don Hearn

About Don Hearn

Don Hearn is an Editor and Correspondent who hails from a badminton-loving town in rural Canada. He joined the Badzine team in 2006 to provide coverage of the Korean badminton scene and is committed to helping Badzine to promote badminton to the place it deserves as a global sport. Contact him at: don @ badzine.net