China’s hopes of badminton sweep dashed

Xu-Chen--Ma-JinRIO DE JANEIRO: China’s hopes of repeating their 2012 Olympic sweep of all five badminton gold medals were shattered Monday when both their pairs were knocked out in the semi-finals of the mixed doubles.

London mixed silver medallists Xu Chen and Ma Jin were beaten by Malaysian pair Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying, 21-12, 21-19.

Then, in a major shock, top seeds and defending champions Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei were dumped out by Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir of Indonesia, 21-16, 21-15.

“This is for my family, my wife, my children, my parents, everyone watching back home and the people of Indonesia,” said Ahmad.

As China slumped, Great Britain were flying as they qualified players into the semi-finals of the men’s doubles and the last eight of the men’s singles for the first time.

Marcus Ellis and Chris Langridge moved to within one win of what would be only Britain’s third Olympic medal in badminton with a 21-19, 21-17 win over Japan’s Hiroyuki Endo and Kenichi Hayakawa.

“On that last set I was so tired, I just thought, ‘please keep hitting it to Marcus’. My legs had gone and I was just standing there,” said Langridge.

Rajiv Ouseph then downed Indonesian seventh seed Tommy Sugiarto 21-13, 14-21, 21-16.

In the women’s singles, Thai fourth seed Ratchanok Intanon lost to Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi 21-19, 21-16.