“Sorry to say it again – but here we go again,” smiled Kevin Cordon, after the single most significant result in badminton history.
The left-hander broke every convention in badminton with yet another blitzkrieg today, in the men’s singles quarterfinals of Tokyo 2020 against Korea’s Heo Kwanghee. At an age when elite players are in the evening of their careers, coming from a country with no tradition or legacy in badminton, and ranked way below the elite at No.59, Cordon smashed all barriers with the flair and audacity that he has displayed to everyone’s amazement in Tokyo. Today it was Heo’s turn to feel the heat as he fell 21-13 22-20.
Cordon started pretty much the way he did in three previous matches – leaping high in the air to smash down either flank. A stunned Heo was quickly out of the first game; the Guatemalan built up a handy lead in the second but the Korean then settled down as Cordon seemed to flag from the effort.
Yet, Cordon was quick to pounce on the half-chances that came his way, and Heo himself started to get shaky. Matchpoint converted, Cordon collapsed to the floor and stayed there for an eternity, before getting up and letting out a war cry to release all the pent-up emotions.
“I’m still happy, still smiling. Well, I’m still a kid, playing like a kid, having fun. Trying to do my best. Can you believe that I’m in the semifinals right now? It’s just amazing,” gushed Cordon.
“I’ve spent many years playing professional badminton. To get this kind of result, the happiness is amazing. When you train with your heart, with patience, all these good things will come into your life.”
What had made the difference today?
“My smash. My arm is slim, it’s not a big arm. But I have this gift, so I just take a chance to play and win rallies with my smash.”
Can the fairytale continue to him becoming only the second Olympic medallist from Guatemala? For that he will have to beat either Viktor Axelsen or Shi Yu Qi.
“Someone asked me the same questions yesterday. I didn’t think about it. And now I have the opportunity to win against Axelsen, if he wins. For us, it’s very difficult to play with all these top-level players who you watch only on TV or internet. I just cannot believe it.
“I’m feeling okay, I’m still young. I don’t have any problems in my legs.”
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