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Europe fights back in badminton

Alan Baldwin | August 19, 2004 09:34 IST

Europeans fought back against Asian domination of Olympic badminton on Wednesday with both Britain and the Netherlands making sure of at least silver medals.

Even if the last European in the men's singles draw, Denmark's former world number one Peter Gade, lost in the quarter-finals to Indonesian Taufik Hidayat, the mighty Chinese also suffered setbacks.

Former Indonesian teenage prodigy turned Dutch national Mia Audina breezed past China's top seed and world number one Gong Ruina 11-4 11-2 to give herself a shot at gold in Thursday's women's singles final.

The 1996 silver medallist for Indonesia, now married to a Dutch gospel singer, will play China's second seed Zhang Ning, who easily saw off the challenge of compatriot Zhou Mi 11-6 11-4.

VICTORY SPREAD-EAGLED

In the mixed doubles, the British pairing of Nathan Robertson and Gail Emms beat Denmark's Jonas Rasmussen and Rikke Olsen 15-6 15-12 to secure their country's first finals appearance.

They will play China's Zhang Jun and Gao Ling in the final while the bronze medal playoff will be an all-Danish affair between Jens Eriksen and Mette Scholdager against Rasmussen/Olsen.

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"It's hard to explain my emotions, what goes through your mind when you reach what is the pinnacle of everything you've trained for 11 years," said Robertson, who savoured victory spread-eagled on the ground.

"It doesn't matter what else I achieve now. If we win the gold it's going to be fantastic. I was so desperate to get a medal because I know that we (Britain) have struggled at the moment to get medals."

At the last Sydney Olympics just two of the medals ended up outside Asia, with China winning four of the five golds on offer.

While Denmark could also be sure of at least one medal, Gade's progress was stopped by Indonesian Hidayat Taufik, who won their quarter-final 15-12 15-12.

But the Dane intended to be back for more in 2008: "If my body is well enough and my knee is good, I will be back in Beijing.

"I'm not finished yet, I have a lot to do still."

There were no Chinese left in the men's singles draw either, with Hidayat playing Thailand's Ponsana Boonsak in one semi-final while South Korean seventh seed Shon Seung-mo takes on Indonesian Soni Dwi Kuncoro in the other.


Athens 2004: The Complete Coverage

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