Aussie Olympic badminton over and out
Wed, 01 Aug 2012 8:17a.m.
By Nick Perry
Victorious in defeat.
Australia's badminton team is headed home from the London Olympics, but head coach Lasse Bundgaard says the future is looking rosy after the country's best performance since Sydney 2000.
With no player winning either a match or set in Athens 2004 or Beijing 2008, singles player Victoria Na and women's doubles pair Renuga Veeran and Leanne Choo broke the curse with two wins and five sets.
And they are all debutants.
"If we can continue to build on the women's program, in particular with some support in the doubles area, we can go a long way in Rio in 2016," said Bundgaard.
Na was the last of Australia's five-member badminton team to bid farewell to the Games on Tuesday morning at Wembley Arena.
Na, ranked 83 in the world, met 13th-seed Guan Ju of Singapore and went down 21-10 21-7.
However, in her opening round match she defeated Slovakia's Monika Fasungova 21-12 21-18.
Choo and Veeran won a set against Indonesia and beat South Africa 21-9 21-7 before bowing out.
It was a bittersweet ending for the girls who punched above their weight against formidable opponents from the Asian badminton powerhouses Singapore, South Korea and Indonesia.
Veeran and Choo enjoyed a spectacular run in the lead up to Games, recording a string of impressive wins on the world circuit as to climb to a career-high ranking of 26.
Bundgaard said he was very happy with their performance though disappointed with the outcome.
"That performance shows they are not that much better than we are," he said.
"What these girls have done in such a short time to close the gap between themselves and the top-ranked teams in the world is a very big achievement."
Na, 21, was Australia's only athlete in the singles badminton competition after earning a last-minute call-up.
Beijing Olympians Glenn Warfe and Ross Smith drew the short straw in London, placed in the men's pool with China, Taiwan and Germany - three of the best badminton nations in the world.
They lost all three matches.
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