S'porean in action
It's been a topsy-turvy three days for Singapore's badminton players at the Commonwealth Games.
On Sunday, they lost a heartbreaking semi-final to Malaysia in the mixed team's event in Glasgow, Scotland.
After winning the first set of the deciding fifth game, the mixed doubles pair of Vanessa Neo and Danny Chrisnanta lost their way and succumbed to a 2-1 defeat by Chan Peng Soon and Lai Pei Jing, a lower seeded pair.
There was some consolation the next day when they edged out India 3-2 to clinch the bronze and claim only their second medal in the mixed team event in the history of the Games (first in 2002), but the disappointment of missing out on the final took its toll on the team, said men's singles player Derek Wong.
"We had a team meeting after bronze-medal game, and our coach and team manager spoke to us about moving forward," he told The New Paper yesterday.
"We've had to put that defeat behind us. Now, we're feeling fresh going into the singles tournament."
That freshness was evident in yesterday's Round of 64 showing at the Emirates Arena.
In the men's singles, Huang Chao easily dispatched Dominic Jaffray of the Falkland Islands 21-4, 21-5, while Wong won his match against Mark Constable of Jersey 21-7, 21-12.
In the women's singles, Liang Xiaoyu beat Kate Foo of Mauritius 21-4, 21-3.
The odds of a medal in the men's singles look good for the Republic as only one player ranked in the world's top 20 - Malaysia's Chong Wei Feng - is on show in Glasgow.
The 39th-ranked Wong, 25, is seeded sixth and is on course to face India's K Srikanth, ranked 30, in the quarter-finals should he work his way through the next two rounds.
He faces Georgie Cupidon from the Seychelles in the Round of 32 today.
"I'm definitely aiming to do better than the 2010 (Commonwealth) Games in Delhi," said Wong.
"I lost in the quarter-finals then, so hopefully I make it to the semis this time and put myself in a medal position.
"It's not as easy as it seems, though. Players like (Malaysia's world No. 1) Lee Chong Wei may not be here, but the field has grown stronger collectively.
"If all goes well, and I meet Srikanth in the quarters, it will be an interesting match.
"I've never played him before, but he reached the final of the Singapore Open (earlier this year) and took Chong Wei all the way (21-19, 21-18)."
The Republic's shuttlers bagged one silver and two bronze medals at the 2010 Games, and expectations are high that the team can redeem themselves after a poor outing at the South-east Asia Games in Myanmar last year, when they returned home with just one bronze.
In today's Round of 32, Huang will face Ayman Jaman of Bangladesh, while Xiaoyu meets Diana Archer of Ghana.
This article was published on July 30 in The New Paper.
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