ORLEANS INT’L – Lauren and Heather get closer to Olympic dream

England’s Heather Olver and Lauren Smith took some important points for their qualification to Rio’s Olympics when they bagged the title in Orleans. Other winners are Denmark’s Grebak/Christiansen in mixed, […]

England’s Heather Olver and Lauren Smith took some important points for their qualification to Rio’s Olympics when they bagged the title in Orleans. Other winners are Denmark’s Grebak/Christiansen in mixed, Goh Jin Wei, Emil Holst and the pair Ruponen/Eidesdeidt.

Raphael Sachetat, correspondant in Orleans. Photos (live): Yohan Nonotte / Badmintonphoto

As every year, the set up was more one of a Superseries in the Orleans International, with black hall and lighten court, VIP chairs on the side and a very good crowd enjoying the show. The spectators were in early to catch the action of the first match, when local players Lea Palermo and Delphine Delrue were taking on England’s Olver and Smith. The recently crowned National Champions from France had a terrific week, edging pairs way better ranked than them (from Japan and Malaysia), using each time a good combination of soft touch, clever defenses and a game that was not so easy to read for opponents who had never played them before. So, the English were entering the court with a bit of nervousness in their minds. “We were a bit nervous before the final because of course the French girls were playing at home, and they had nothing to lose while we had a bit of pressure” said Heather Olver. Another reason to stress was the fact that the top seeds are still struggling for point to make the cut for Rio, and this victory was certainly an important step towards a ticket to Rio. And the first game showed that things were going on in their minds with easy mis-shots from the English, while the French were finding good angles and keeping up with their opponents at 19-19, the turning point. The English then scored the next two points which had a strong effect on the rest of the game. The English were free of mind and the French realized that winning two more games in their state of fatigue was going to be really hard. The first part of the second game was a one sided affair – Olver and Smith were ahead 11/0. The French girls started playing a bit better but the gap was too big and they couldn’t come back. 21-19, 21-8. “It feels really great to come here and win. We knew it was going to be tough because the girls played really well all week. The gain of the first game certainly helped us a lot as we were able to focus more in the tactic in the second and everything then went as planned” said Lauren Smith. “It is a good victory for us as we are still looking for Olympic points. I don’t think this victory puts us in the temporary list. We depend on results of other pairs too, so we’ll just have to try our best to get as many points as we can. It might go down to the last tournament for us – the European championships. It’s in France too, so, hopefully, it will bring us luck like this time” said Heather Olver.

Goh Jin Wei on top, sweet revenge for Holst

It was a battle of teenagers in the women’s singles. Malaysia’s Goh Jin Wei, only 16, was taking on Indonesia’s Fitriani, announced to be just one year older by the venue’s speaker when the two athletes came on court. The first game saw the Indonesian play a clever game while Goh seemed a bit slow. She had collapsed the day before on court and had to catch her breath for a few minutes with the help of the physio before going back to play, so there were question marks on her stamina for the day. However, after the loss of the first game 15-21, the young Malaysian was back at her best, with her usual great coverage of the court, racket down, waiting for the last minute to change the shuttle trajectory. This worked wonders as she took the next two games 21-10, 21-7

Emil Holst and Rasmus Fladberg may have rejoiced the day before and congratulate each other to have made it to the final after their semi final victories, the two room mates were facing each other in the final, for what was to be the rematch of their own National Championships. At the time, Fladberg had the upperhand, but in Orleans, it was the blond Dane who came on top, more confident in his game, more precise, and most of all, it looked like he was more eager to win. Playing with the public, dancing

at times, he seemed unaware of any pressure while Fladberg didn’t play his usual soft game. Holst took it in two games 21-17, 21-13. “It was great to play and win here. The organization is really great and I had a great time all week here. I’m glad I was able to beat Rasmus today as I had lost last time we played” said Holst.

In the mixed double event, Michael Christiansen and Lena Grebak were just too sharp for their opponents Robin Tabelling and Samantha Barning but this new combination could be one to look for in the future with Tabelling showing some glimpse of a great talent to come. However the Danes had the experience on their side and, once again in Orleans, took the gold medal with a 21-14, 21-13.

Last but not least, Richard Eidesteidt and Nico Ropunen gave a real show in the men’s double final against the ever jumping Indonesians Hardianto/Haryanto. The match went all the way to a third game with a 21-19 final set for the Swedes.

WD: Olver/Smith beat Delrue/Palermo (FRA) : 21-19, 21-8
Mx: Christiansen/Grebak (DEN) beat Tabeling/Barning (NED) : 21-14, 21-13
WS: Goh Wei Jin (MAL) beat Fitriani/Fitriani (INA) : 15-21, 21-10, 21-7
MS: Emil Hoslt (DEN) beat Rasmus Fladberg (DEN) : 21-17, 21-13
MD: Hardianto/Haryanto (INA) beat Eidestedt/Ruponen (Sweden) : 13-21, 21-12, 21-19

Raphaël Sachetat

About Raphaël Sachetat

Raphael is the Chief Editor of Badzine International. He is the founder of the website together with Jean François Chauveau. After many years writing for the BWF and many publications around the world about badminton, he now leads a team of young and dynamic writers for Badzine.