Canada makes Olympic badminton statement amidst match-fixing scandal
Let's be honest: it's hard to take badminton seriously.
When the great badminton match-fixing scandal hit these Olympic it was mostly a chance to everyone not directly involved with the sport to make jokes, because hey, itâ€™s badminton. The No. 1 womenâ€™s doubles team from China and two teams from South Korea and a team from Indonesia were all tossed for a comical attempt not to win in the round robin, but hey, who tries that hard at badminton anyway? Just flop the birdie around a little and then maybe grab a burger and hit the pool.
But part of the fallout from those expulsions is that Canadaâ€™s team had to be pulled away from sightseeing to play again, and they won, and next thing you know Canadaâ€™s Alexandra Bruce and Michelle Li were in the semi-finals against a powerhouse from Japan, which is a place where they presumably donâ€™t make jokes about badminton. And Japan came out in these shiny navy-blue numbers, and Canada came out wearing these sponsor-provided yellow jerseys that frankly looked like they belonged at a rec league, and they played.
And Canada lost, 21-12, 19-21, 21-13, and even that was incredible. Ranked 28th, they took a set off the fifth-ranked team in the world. There are different levels of success in this whole thing, and theirs was this: They showed up, and were not afraid. Bruce said she thought that was the best they had ever played.
â€œThey played a tremendous match,â€ said their coach, Ram Nayyar. â€œLiterally, from everything Iâ€™ve got â€” from their Facebooks and their Twitters â€” it must have been the weight of Canada on their shoulders, and I think they did us proud. You know, a couple things go this way, that way, they would have that match. Tremendous, tremendous effort.â€
You can make fun of the notion that they had all of Canada on their shoulders â€” this wasnâ€™t the Olympic menâ€™s hockey final here â€” but remember, these are a 20-year-old (Li) and a 22-year-old (Bruce) who donâ€™t spend an awful lot of time on TV. Heck, the badminton press attache had to correct the spelling of Liâ€™s first name after the match, after everyone got it wrong on Wednesday. They lost all three of their games in the round-robin, to teams they had never seen before from China, from South Korea, and from Russia, and they got ready to go home.
Until the great match-fixing scandal, which was the result of adding a round-robin to this tournament for the first time, and next thing you know the top team in the world and the South Koreans who are No. 8 were playing like Aunt Rita and Uncle Verne â€” the preferred name for the scandal here is â€œSHUTTLECROCKâ€ â€” and it was quite a fiasco. It was, in fact, such a fiasco that people paid attention to badminton.
â€œIâ€™m pretty sure that everybody who never watches badminton is starting to watch badminton on TV, and weâ€™re making history,â€ said Li. â€œIâ€™m really proud that weâ€™ve made it this far, and weâ€™re playing so well.â€
Read the whole article on the website of the National Post.
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