London 2012 Olympics: Badminton draw is kind to Adcock and Bankier

NATHAN Robertson believes Great Britain’s latest badminton mixed doubles hopes, Chris Adcock and Imogen Bankier, can make a big impression at London 2012.

The Anglo-Scottish pairing denied Robertson, a silver medallist in Athens eight years ago, a final shot at Olympic glory by qualifying for this summer’s Games ahead of the veteran and his partner, Jenny Wallwork.

Robertson, 35, has since retired from the sport, but there are no hard feelings and he intends to get right behind Adcock and Bankier when the competition at Wembley Arena gets under way on Saturday. Robertson believes the draw – which was released yesterday – has been kind to the tenth-ranked pair, even though they will face Chinese world champions Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei in the group stage.

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He said: “I honestly think they will be really happy about it. I think they have avoided some pairs they might have struggled against.

“It is not a group of death. There are not four top-ten pairs in that group like one of the others. Their prospects are good. There are two pairs to come out of each group and they have a winning record against the Chinese. If they play well they will hope to top the group, but the aim will just be to get out of the group to start with.”

Adcock and Bankier will also face Alexandr Nikolaenko and Valeria Sorokina of Russia and Germany’s Michael Fuchs and Birgit Michels in Group A.

The group stage is a new 
element for the London 2012 Games instead of the event being a traditional straight knockout competition. The top two pairs from each of the four groups will progress to the quarter-finals.

Adcock and Bankier announced themselves at the top level with a run to the final of the World Championships, also held at Wembley, last year.

They were beaten by Zhang and Zhao but will take encouragement from having overcome the Chinese pair twice since.

Robertson, who also competed at the 2000 and 2008 Games, knows how the players will be feeling now as the competition nears. He said: “I’m sure they’ll have been excited about the draw coming out today.

“They did it last year at Wembley Arena, they have got a great feeling there and their preparations have been good.

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“The group stage may help as all our team are first-timers, if it takes one match to get used to the atmosphere, but I don’t think our guys will show their nerves. I think they will come out flying.”

There was an eye-catching draw in the men’s singles as Ireland’s Scott Evans was paired with reigning champion and favourite Lin Dan of China in a two-man Group P.

The match-up could not have been tougher for world No 76 Evans with Lin, although seeded second to Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei, widely regarded as the greatest player of all time.

“Scott’s got a tough one, but he’ll enjoy that because he didn’t have medal hopes,” said Robertson, who was involved in the draw at the main press centre on the Olympic Park.

“He probably hoped for a match he could win but if not he probably hoped to be against the greatest player of all time. He’ll enjoy it.”

Britain’s entrant Rajiv Ouseph, the 15th seed, was paired with Sweden’s Henri Hurskainen and Kevin Cordon of Guatemala.

Scotland’s Susan Egelstaff has been handed a decent draw in the pool matches for the women’s singles at her first Olympic Games.

The Glasgow 29-year-old came out of the hat in London yesterday in the same Pool H as No 12 seed Sayako Sato (Japan) and Slovenia’s Maja Tvrdy, who is ranked No 89 in the world.

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Chloe Magee of Ireland, the world No 44, will face Pi Hongyan of France, a quarter-finalist in 2008, and Egypt’s Hadia Hosny in Group I.

There are 16 groups in the singles competitions with only the winners going through to the knockout stages.

The competitions begin on Saturday with the playing schedule due to be announced later this week.

Robertson reflected: “I’m not missing playing. I played full-time for 18 years, so I can honestly say I do not miss the training at all.

“But I’ll probably miss not being out there when the Olympics start. This is a chance for badminton and a chance for individuals to stick their names in history.

“We [Britain] have done it in the past, we did it in Sydney and Athens when he got ourselves on the podiums.

“We have a chance again and it will be emphasised even more because it is in London.”


Men’s singles

Group M: Rajiv Ouseph (Great Britain); Henri Kurskainen (Sweden); Kevin Cordon (Guatemala).

Women’s singles

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Group H: Sayaka Sato (Japan); Susan Egelstaff (Great Britain); Maja Tvrdy (Slovenia).

Mixed doubles

Group A: Zhang Nan & Zhao Yunlei (China); Alexandr Nikolaenko & Valeri Sorokina (Russia); Michael Fuchs & Birgit Michels (Germany); Chris Adcock & Imogen Bankier (Great Britain).

(In the singles, only the group winners will qualify for the last 16. In the doubles the top two qualify for the quarters).