Wednesday, July 27, 2016
TEXT BY DEV SUKUMAR | PEDRO MARTINS
With the Olympic draw completed, the various contenders and team officials contemplated their prospects – some were relieved; others reconciled to the severity of early tests.
Denmark’s head coach Lars Uhre stated that the luck of the draw hadn’t played out for his players.
“Overall it is a tough draw for us. We know that we won’t get anything for free at the Olympics. We will continue to prepare and better ourselves so we are as strong as possible. We still believe that we can compete among the best and we will aim for the medals,” Uhre said.
Denmark’s Women’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles pairs have landed in the toughest groups in their categories. Joachim Fischer Nielsen/Christinna Pedersen are in Group B of Mixed Doubles along with China’s Xu Chen/Ma Jin, Poland’s Robert Mateusiak/Nadiezda Zieba and Great Britain’s Chris Adcock/Gabrielle Adcock, while in Women’s Doubles, Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl are also in the tough Group B with China’s Luo Ying/Luo Yu, Korea’s Jung Kyung Eun/Shin Seung Chan and USA’s Paula Lynn Obanana/Eva Lee.
The draw was attended by representatives from Brazil, Britain, China, Hong Kong, Israel, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Thailand.
Women’s Singles No.8 seed Tai Tzu Ying, who goes into the Olympics on the back of title wins in Indonesia and her home Yonex Open Chinese Taipei, reacted cautiously.
“I’ve no particular feelings to my group because I expected some tough matches regardless of how the draw turned out,” she said.
Tai is expected to face India’s PV Sindhu or Canada’s Michelle Li in the round of 16 and second seed Wang Yihan in the quarter-finals.
Brazil’s Men’s Singles prospect Ygor Coelho de Oliveira, who is in Group K with Germany’s Marc Zwiebler and Ireland’s Scott Evans, looked forward to performing well in front of his home crowd.
“I am happy with the draw. I want to play my best against them and in front of my home crowd. I am looking forward to it,” Oliveira said.
China will be defending all five gold medals, and a relaxed-looking General Secretary of the Chinese Badminton Association, Liu Xiaonong, stated that he was ‘satisfied’ with the outcome of the draw.
“The draw is a fair process for all players. It is good that the Chinese players are separated (in different halves/quarters). We are satisfied with the results today. For sure we want all the gold medals again like in London and our players will fight their best but anything can happen on the court. All players have a chance to win.”
Thai heartthrob Ratchanok Intanon has dominated the headlines this season with three straight World Superseries titles, and Thai Olympic Attache Kosin Phonmang was confident of Intanon winning a medal.
“Ratchanok has the potential to win her group and hopefully to win a medal, maybe even the gold. She is one of our main medal hopes for these Olympic Games. All of Thailand will be supporting her,” said Phonmang.
In the top half of the Women’s Singles draw, Carolina Marin will be hoping to add an Olympic gold to her two World titles. Laura Primo Calvo-Manzano, NOC Assistant of Spain, was happy with the draw for both Marin and Men’s Singles contender Pablo Abian.
“I think Carolina has the possibility to win gold. This is a good draw for her. I also think Pablo Abian has a chance to get through the group stage,” Calvo-Manzano said.
Featured image: Laura Primo Calvo-Manzano, NOC Assistant of Spain, takes a picture of the Women’s Singles draw