I am having fun!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008 9:32 PM

Dear Friends,

Well, what a day we had yesterday. It was the round of 16 day at the Olympic badminton tournament. The day started with Mike Beres and Val Loker playing their first round mixed doubles match, against (I think) the number 5 ranked team in the World, from Thailand. I have to say, I have never seen Mike and Val play that well, especially against such a strong team as the Thais. They lost it in two games, but they should be very happy with their performance. That was in the morning session of play. We came back to watch the evening session, and were witness to one of the greatest matches I have ever seen. This happened in the mixed doubles. Nathan Robertson and Gail Emms, from England, the 2006 World Champions and medallists from the last Olympics (I think it was silver) were up agains the current World number 2 pairing of Gao Ling and Zheng Bo, of China. Gao Ling, incidently, with another partner, was the one who stopped Nathan and Gail from getting their gold in Athens 2004. I'm not sure what the record is between these two pairs, but for the most part, I have seen the Chinese win more than the English. Moving onto the match...

The English had a strong start, and kept ahead by a few points. Nearing the end of the first game, they kept that lead and won it 21-16. The English carried this momentum into the second set, storming to a 13-7 lead. The local crowd was silenced and it looked like it was game over. Not even close! Up to this point, the Chinese were gradually able to extended the rallies and the English were having a harder and harder time putting the shuttle down. My friend Kaveh, a badminton player from Iran, mentioned that Nathan had had foot surgery only 7 weeks before the Olympics, so he couldn't have been in the best shape of his life. That's how it appeared when the Chinese finally scored a point. Then another, and another....until they were leading 16-13! The crowd was deafening, seeing their team come from such a big deficit, one game and 13-7 down, to have a chance to extend the match to a third game! The Chinese continued to gain ground and they won this game 21-16. It was not looking good for the English. Nathan looked tired and frustrated and Gail didn't look too happy either, seeing such a big lead, as well as all the momentum they had gained, vanish. The Chinese were the ones to storm to a lead this time, getting up 11-6 and then 16-10. It was all over...or was it? HA HA! Nope, it wasn't over. Nathan and Gail had found some rhythm by this point in the game, and with a couple of very short rallies, they started to score some points. One at a time, they rallied back and unbelieveably, within minutes, they were the ones who were up 18-17. The teams exchanged rallies, and the chinese stayed within one, but lost in finally 21-19....That was one of the biggest comebacks I have ever seen. Both these teams were medal contenders going into the tournament, coupled with the fact that they played each other in the final of the last Olympics, made this match all the more riveting, with both teams looking to get gold here in Beijing!

We are going to see many more exciting matches today. On top of that, I got some tickets to see some Judo, so I'll be doing that later today as well! I am having fun!

Take care,



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