Having grabbed a last-gasp opportunity to qualify for the Rio Olympics, Matthew Chau and Sawan Serasinghe are determined to make it count.
The Men’s Doubles duo from Australia were No.60 in the World Rankings going into the final week before the qualification deadline, but captured the Oceania Championships title which gave them 5500 points, sufficient to leap into the top 50 and qualify as continental representatives.
Chau and Serasinghe are confident they have the game to make an impact in Rio.
“When Sawan’s at the back and I’m at the front, and he’s thundering down his smashes, we can do some damage,” says Chau. “We’re okay in defence. There’s some room to improve there; definitely our offense is our key point.”
Chau though has no illusions about the quality of Men’s Doubles at the highest level: “On the international stage you need point after point (and) to be able to repeat maximum effort with no mistakes which is what you see the top pairs do. That’s something we need to learn and keep up. We’re definitely improving but there’s still room to improve.”
Serasinghe and Chau got to know each other in their junior days, and paired up for the under-19 Oceania Championships.
“He was one of the top juniors in the country so obviously it was like a rivalry growin g up but in a good way, we helped each other get better,” says Serasinghe.
“He was this really chubby kid from Sri Lanka and no one knew who he was but he just came in and he was really slow but he had the most amazing wrist and first impressions would probably be like scared a little bit, because we were competing against him,” recalls Chau.
“We first came together as a partnership in the under-19s at the Oceanias; we both had separate partners before. The team put us together and we ended up winning that event. Then I took some time off for studies in 2012. In 2013 I came back and we started up again, and we’ve been going since then.”
Like others who have qualified for the Olympics, Serasinghe and Chau are thrilled at making it to the world’s biggest event.
“It’ll mean so much, it has been such a dream,” says Chau. “My first coach Lenny Permana made her debut in the Olympics in 2004. Since then it’s been a dream at the back of my head and the fact that it could be a reality – amazing!”