Olympics, Day 1

BADMINTON

I had a chance to watch badminton today. Though not the most overtly exciting and popular of olymic events, I was nonetheless amazed at the athleticism of the competitors and the special skills and movements required to produce such spectacular results as overhead backhand slams, precision shots and lunging saves. The quickness of perception and reaction required for this sport astonishes me, and is probably the main draw for the crowds as well as the reason that it is an olympic sport. The shuttlecock (heh), in fact moves at the second-fastest speed in sports, exceeded only by the marksman’s bullet. Add to that the fact that badminton is a frequently played game in back yards around the world, which produces at least token familiarity and an illusion of simplicity and you have a sport worthy of attention.

The match I was fortunate enough to witness was between Eva Lee of the U.S.A. and Anna Rice of Canada. In previous matches between these two, Lee had never defeated Rice before. I came into the match during game 3 of the two-of-three match. The real excitement began when Lee was leading Rice 15 to 13. Badminton is played to 21. Lee lost her former composure at that point and lost 4 points to her own errors, including simply letting three points drop to the ground on misjudgements, but eventually recovered the pace following a fortunate shot that bounced off of the “Tape”, i.e. the top of the net. The score was 19-19 when Lee served into a volley that, more than any other point of the night displayed the reaction time and immense flexibiliity that is required for the sport. Following fantastic technical defense by the Canadian, the shuttle wend just out of bounds off of Lee’s smash forehand, allowing Rice the chance to server for the match. A visually stunning set of turns and returns ensued and Eva Lee again tapped the shuttle into the net, but the luck she had enjoyed before failed to repeat and she dropped the match to Rice, maintaining her winless streak against the canuck, who moved on in the tournament.

Eva Lee

Eva Lee

Anna Rice

Anna Rice

Click HERE to watch video of the match on nbcolympics.com

More to come on Equestrian, Tennis and Fencing.

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