Exhausted shuttlers limp out of East Asian Games
After expending their energy in the team event, undermanned squad wilt in individual contest
Hong Kong's exhausted badminton players bowed out limply from the East Asian Games yesterday, having expended all their energy to win a silver medal in the team event.
Playing his ninth game in four days, Wong Wing-ki went out in the individual quarter-finals when he was beaten by Kazumasa Sakai of Japan in three games after a gruelling 73-minute battle.
World No 11 Hu Yun retired in his first-round match against Jeon Hyeok-jin of South Korea. Two days ago, Hu beat Jeon in straight games in the team event.
Wong, the world No 12, had to play both singles and doubles in the team event as Hong Kong were only allowed to bring five players by the Hong Kong Olympic Committee.
"I have to pay high tribute for their achievement under such extremely difficult conditions," said head coach Tim He Yiming. "They were already very tired in the singles and there is nothing more I can ask from them."
To win their silver medal, Hong Kong had to play four teams in three days under the round-robin format. Each contest consisted of five matches.
The Hong Kong Olympic Committee said the men's team only had three players who reached the qualifying standard.
"There should be some flexibility as we were allowed to enter the team competition," said He.
In swimming, Hong Kong won two silvers through Stephanie Au Hoi-shun (50m backstroke) and Siobhan Haughey (200m individual medley).
Au, who reached the semi-finals at the Barcelona World Championships in July, finished in 28.59 seconds, behind Fu Yuanhui of China (27.77), the silver medallist in Barcelona.
Au said although her time was not as good as her 28.39 at the worlds, she was still pleased and looking forward to her next backstroke events in the 100 metres and 200 metres, as well as the 4x100 medley relay.
"We have our strongest swimmers ever in all four events and hopefully we can mount a serious challenge to China for the gold medal," she said.
Fifteen-year-old Haughey finished the medley in 2:13.35, behind London Olympic Games gold medallist Ye Shiwen of China (2:11.49).
Haughey said her second silver came as a big surprise - it was five seconds faster than her personal best. "It is an amazing result, but I still wonder what happened," she said.
The duo, with Sze Hang-yu and Chan Kin-lok, captured a bronze medal in the last event of the night, the 4x200 metre freestyle relay, with a time of 8:16.14.
Fencing won another silver for Hong Kong in the men's team sabre after losing to South Korea 45-40 in the final.