Kevin Cordon’s happy hunting ground – Wembley Arena – again proved lucky for the Guatemalan.
After a quarter-final berth at the Worlds here last year, the Central American shuttler (featured image, right) ended the medal aspirations of Britain’s Rajiv Ouseph, topping Group M in Men’s Singles.
World-ranked No. 38, Cordon came into the afternoon match knowing he could create history not only for Guatemala but for the whole American continent, by winning two consecutive matches at the Olympic Games.
The 25-year-old began poorly, losing the opening game 21-12. Ouseph looked in complete control, accompanied by Team GB supporters in full cry from the packed stands. Cheers of “GB” echoed around the enclosed venue but these soon turned to groans and gasps as the tenacious Cordon clawed his way into contention in the second game, punching his fists repeatedly. He evened the match 21-19 in the second, earning a third decisive game.
Things became increasingly worse for London-born Ouseph and his hopes were ultimately dashed as an exuberant Cordon fell to his knees, seizing victory 21-17 in the third game.
“I think this victory surpasses my quarter-final here last year. Winning two matches at an Olympics is something that no continental American has achieved before so this success is not only good for badminton in Guatemala but the whole American continent,” he declared fully cognisant of his accomplishment.
The vanquished Ouseph put on a brave face.
“Each of us in the squad tried our best. It was a first for us all so (it) was unchartered territory. We certainly have not performed as well as we could but hopefully there is another Olympics for me and I can take this experience with me,” said the 25-year-old.
Tine Baun advanced to the last 16 in Women’s Singles with victory over Russian No. 1 Anastasia Prokopenko, but not without drama. The 33-year-old Danish veteran had to summon all her resolve and experience as she appeared vulnerable versus Prokopenko. The 26-year-old won the opening game 21-19. Baun bounced back 21-16 in the second game but still looked shaky.
Uncertainty continued to beset her in the third game and she misfired on a number of shots. Winning, though, is a habit for seasoned players and Baun showed her pedigree in overcoming the Russian 21-15 in the decider. There was palpable relief as she left the court, frank as always in her post-match assessment.
“That was pretty bad. I had no feeling. I was so insecure on everything. I made so many mistakes and she (Prokopenko) was playing well. I felt so relieved when I won. Next game I will just go out there and enjoy the feeling of competing,” said Baun.
Pi Hongyan of France extended her stay in her last Olympics but was made to work hard against Ireland’s Chloe Magee. The 33-year-old veteran went a game down against Magee but came back strong to take her place in the last 16 (16-21 21-18 21-14).
The final match of the session was the final nail in Britain’s badminton coffin at these Games. A spluttering Chris Adcock and Imogen Bankier were always going to be underdogs against tournament favourites Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei given their lacklustre Mixed Doubles performances at the Olympics. The form books don’t tend to lie in these situations and the Chinese duly topped Group A with three victories.