First-Time Nations Make Strong Impression

The representatives of nations making their badminton debut at the Olympics made quite an impression at Tokyo 2020. There were no signs of nerves, nor were they rattled by the quality of their opponents. Some even recorded historic wins.

Azerbaijan – Ade Resky Dwicahyo

Dwicahyo, who had played the World Junior Championships for Indonesia before moving to Azerbaijan four years ago, took down four-time Olympian Nguyen Tien Minh in straight games in Group L before falling to third seed Anders Antonsen in a well-contested match. As the first from Azerbaijan to play the Olympics, Dwicahyo’s victory over Nguyen might be a good portent of things to come. The Azerbaijani plays an out-and-out attacking game, somewhat similar to Anthony Sinisuka Ginting. Aged 23, he has the time and, more importantly, the resolve to go a long way in men’s singles.

“This is my first Olympics. My family is so happy. I had a dream that I could go to the Olympics, and now I’m here. My federation is very happy because we’ve been working hard for two years. And now we did it, we qualified for Olympics,” said Dwicahyo.

Malta – Matthew Abela

The world No.332 from Malta received a Tripartite Commission Invitation place and found himself drawn in Group H with 11th seed Shi Yu Qi and fellow-Tripartite qualifier Soren Opti of Suriname. Shi, expectedly, proved too strong for Abela, who could not get another match as Opti had withdrawn earlier from the event after contracting COVID-19.

The Malese trains at Denmark’s Centre of Excellence. He would have been happier, he said, if he had got double digits against Shi.

“It (target) was 10. Being very close, I’m happy but one more point and I would have been more satisfied.

“I loved every second of it (competing in Tokyo). For the last four years I have been practising in Denmark at the Centre of Excellence. The badminton situation in Malta is okay, it’s getting better finally so I’m happy to see there’s progress slowly.”

Abela, who too had Covid four months ago, commiserated with Opti.

“Unfortunately Opti got positive for Covid, I hope he will be okay, I wish him the best for a quick recovery. I had Covid four months ago, it wasn’t easy to get back but hopefully it will be okay for him.”

Myanmar – Thet Htar Thuzar

Myanmar’s debut at the Olympics happened in the form of Thet Htar Thuzar, who idolises Tai Tzu Ying and plays strokeful style inspired by the No.1. Drawn in Group M with 14th seed Gregoria Mariska Tunjung and Lianne Tan, Thet couldn’t get going against either of her opponents, falling in straight games. She attributed the losses to the lack of practice time after her arrival in Tokyo.

“I knew she’s a good player, so I had to be focussed,” said Lianne Tan, of Thet. “She got some quick points, she’s a dangerous player. I think she can move well, she’s light on her feet. She has a really nice style. I knew she was one to watch.”

Pakistan – Mahoor Shahzad

The first player from Pakistan to feature in the Olympics, Shahzad also had the honour of being her country’s flag-bearer at the opening ceremony. Shahzad was drawn in difficult Group L with fourth seed Akane Yamaguchi and Kirsty Gilmour. She struggled in her first match but gave a better account of her abilities against Gilmour in a 21-14 21-14 loss.

“Since we don’t play many international matches I found it difficult to adjust to the environment,” said Shahzad. “It feels very good that Pakistan has got representation. We’re hoping that from now there will be more players from Pakistan. Carrying the flag felt very good. I’m the first Pakistani female player to hold the flag, so it was an awesome feeling. I received so many messages, and my friends and relatives were very happy.”

Syria – Aram Mahmoud

The biggest story on the opening days of competition was that of the IOC Refugee Olympic Team.  Aram Mahmoud made history both for his homeland Syria and as a member of the Refugee Team. Drawn in Group G with Jonatan Christie and Loh Kean Yew, Mahmoud displayed sound skills, including a powerful, acutely angled smash that troubled both his opponents.

“I could play some good rallies, and could challenge him a bit,” Mahmoud said after his loss to Loh Kean Yew. “I was hoping I could give a picture of myself. I’m satisfied with the way I played. I hope in the future I can play higher level tournaments. This is a dream come true, now I’m happy that I was here and it will be in my heart my whole life. A lot of people from around the world were very happy with the way I played. That will motivate me to be better and better.”

Olympic and Paralympic News

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Refugee Athlete Mahmoud Resilient Despite Lockdown Blues

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BWF Responds to Tokyo 2020 Postponement

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Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Postponed

24 March 2020
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IOC Issues Communique on Tokyo 2020

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Badminton Asia Championships Moved To Manila

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IOC President Confident of Successful Olympics

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BWF Statement on Postponement of Vietnam International Challenge

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Ho-Shue: Primed for a Twin Challenge

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Mahmoud Hangs On Despite Challenges

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BWF Statement on Postponement of Lingshui China Masters

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Thai Triumph Provides Fillip for Ellis & Smith in Olympic Year

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A Leap Up for Thygesen & Fruergaard

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Tokyo Legends Inspiring Current Stars

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Pan Am Champs Seek to Sharpen Skills

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Miyuki Maeda Revels in New Role

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Olympic Dreams Spur On Refugee Champ Mahmoud

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Aram Mahmoud Receives IOC Refugee Athlete Scholarship

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Michelle Li – Playing with Pain on Road to Tokyo

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‘Competition Against Great Players Brought Out Best in Me’ – Bang Soo...

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What We Have Learned – Road To Tokyo

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‘Ygor’ for Success in Tokyo!

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Badminton Olympic Competition Schedule Announced

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Lee Chong Wei in Search of Olympic miracle

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Tai Undecided on Retirement Post Tokyo 2020

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Somerville/Mapasa Seek to Cover Lost Ground

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Comeback Man Parupalli Targets Tokyo 2020

2 April 2019
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Women Trailblazers – Rio Flashback

23 March 2019
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New Era Set to Dawn – Road To Tokyo

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Tokyo 2020 on the Horizon

22 March 2019
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YOG Stars to Watch – Road To Tokyo

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