Yip equals best HK performance by reaching quarters
Unseeded Yip Pui-yin never thought she would beat two seeded players in the women's singles - and neither did her parents, who have had to change their travel plans and stay on in London to support their daughter.
They were supposed leave for Hong Kong today, but have extended their stay after Yip marched into the quarter-finals with a come-from-behind victory over Pi Hongyan of France in the knockout round yesterday. It equalled the best performance by a Hong Kong shuttler at the Olympic Games.
The 24-year-old Yip, a silver medallist at the 2006 Doha Asian Games, clinched a 13-21, 21-12, 21-16 victory against the 16th seed at Wembley Arena in West London.
On Monday, Yip claimed the scalp of eighth seed Sung Ji-hyun, of South Korea, in the group stage.
'I never thought I would beat two seeded players,' said Yip, who now faces a daunting task against rising Chinese star and world No 3 Li Xuerui in the last eight.
Yip said she had received a lot of support from Hong Kong through social media over the past few days. 'The support has pushed me to work harder and harder. I don't want to let them down,' she said.
Former world No 1 Wang Chen, who is now Yip's coach, also reached the quarter-finals at the 2004 Athens Games but was stopped by eventual champion Zhang Ning of China. Wang is not in London after having her first child.
Head coach Tim He Yiming said: 'Yip is more mature these days and I am happy to see her grow. She now realises she is the number one player in Hong Kong and mentally she is much stronger.'
After levelling the score at 1-1, Yip opened up a commanding 8-2 lead in the opening stages of the deciding set before 33-year-old Pi, a former member of the Chinese national team, clawed back to level at 9-9.
'Previously, Yip might have lost her head after losing so many points in a row, but she showed great composure, stayed calm and got there point by point,' said the coach. He said Yip had nothing to lose in tomorrow's clash with Li.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong's top table tennis player, Jiang Tianyi, gave his best against childhood friend Zhang Zike of China, but admitted the world No 1 was simply too good.
The top-seeded Zhang won the singles quarter-finals 11-4, 8-11, 11-4, 11-9, 11-6.
Both players are Shandong natives and in 2004 joined forces to win the doubles event champion at the Asian junior championships. Jiang moved to Hong Kong a year later, while Zhang moved up the ladder on the mainland. 'It would have been a bit closer if I had taken the fourth game when it was level at 9-9,' said Jiang, who now has to prepare for the team event kicking off tomorrow. 'Although we know each other well, it would be hard to beat him. Zhang is definitely the better player.
'Now I'm going to concentrate on the team event. I believe we have a real chance to win a medal.'
Hong Kong will play Brazil in their opening match and coach Chan Kong-wah said his charges were ready. 'There is no easy match at this level but our three players are hitting top form and they are ready to put up a strong challenge,' Chan said.
In fencing, Leung Ka-ming came close to becoming the first Hongkonger to reach the round of 16 when he lost 15-14 in the men's epee to Paolo Pizzo of Italy. Leung, who had to borrow money from friends a couple of years ago to pay for his overseas training and competitions, was leading all the way, including at 14-12, but could not close it out. Au Sin-ying also suffered defeat in the first round, losing 15-13 to Azza Besbes of Tunisia in the women's individual sabre.
In swimming, Hannah Wilson came seventh in her heat in the women's 100m freestyle with a time of 55.33 seconds.
The seeding of French badminton player Pi Hongyan, whom Hong Kong's unseeded Yip Pui-yin beat yesterday to reach the quarter-finals