Five badminton players selected to take the court at Rio
Published 20 June 2016 (AEDT)
RIO TEAM: Three men and two women were announced in the badminton section of the Australian Olympic Team today as the world’s fastest racquet sport takes to the court at the Rio 2016 Games.
The five are set to mix it with the best 172 players in the world when the competition commences on August 11.
With Australia qualifying players in the mixed doubles, men’s doubles and women’s singles, the Team boasts an even mix of experience and fresh talent.
Leanne Choo represented Australia at the 2012 Games in the women’s doubles where, alongside partner Renuga Veeran, she was knocked out of the competition by Canada in the quarter-finals.
Four years on and Choo is set to take to the Olympic court again, this time in the mixed doubles alongside English-born Robin Middleton.
Despite only moving to Australia in 2011 and becoming a citizen in 2014, Middleton says being selected on the Australian Olympic Team is a dream come true.
“My first Australian cap was at the 2014 Commonwealth Games,” said Middleton. “It was amazing and the team all got around me, we had an awesome time.
“It will be an absolute honour to represent Australia Olympic team and a lifelong dream realised.”
Middleton says that the 18-month qualification period has been testing for the pair but ultimately made them better players as they push towards the first South American Games.
“We have pushed through some rough patches on and off court but we have come through more united and stronger for it.”
Middleton says Choo, with her Olympic experience, is a supportive playing partner and a fantastic competitor.
“Nothing will stop her from pushing through and winning even when things aren't going as smoothly as you hoped. It's a great trait to have.”
Both Choo and Middleton know the competition at Rio will be tough, but they will not let that deter them from not giving the world’s best an inch come August.
“We are aiming for the quarter-finals, if we get there then we could have a shot for a medal, as all the pressure will be on the opponents as they will be expected to win.”
The second pair in the Team will be men’s doubles players Sawan Serasinghe and Matt Chau who will both make their Olympic debut at just 21 and 22 years of age.
“I cannot even begin to describe how elated and proud I am to be selected into the Australian Olympic Team,” said Chau who trains with Serasinghe at the National Training Centre in Melbourne.
“The opportunity to represent my country on the largest sporting stage in the world is something very few throughout history have been able to do and I am truly honoured to be selected.”
The pair are also aiming to progress to the quarter-final stage which will require them to be one of the top two pairs in their group of four.
As the underdogs they know it will be a difficult task but believe their on-court bond coupled with a strong mental and physical preparation could see the pair upset their opponents at the Games.
“The connection with the partner is very important in doubles as we are always working together,” said Serasinghe.
“If we know each other well enough, it makes it much easier to identify if our partner isn’t performing up to the standard, then the other person can sort of step in to help and take charge of the situation.”
Rounding out the Badminton Team will be Hsuan Yu Wendy Chen who will take to the court in the women’s singles competition.
Born in Taiwan, Chen moved to Australia in 2011 and tasted her first senior success when at only 15-years-old she claimed a silver medal in the women’s singles at the 2008 Australian Open Badminton Championships.
As the reigning Oceania Champion, Chen will look to impress at the Rio Games in the 32 player competition.
2016 Badminton Team Leader and national head coach Lasse Bundgaard believes all of these athletes have worked hard to get themselves on the Team.
“This selection is due to a lot of hard work, so I am sure they all feel a lot of relief.”
Bundgaard is confident that this crop of badminton players are the best athletes to don the green and gold on the Olympic stage.
“Badminton has a strong and talented Team for Rio and I know that these five athletes will represent Australia in the best possible way.
“Rio will be a fantastic opportunity to show that Australian badminton has come a long way and that we are capable of competing against the top badminton nations.”
The badminton competition at the Rio 2016 Games commences on August 11 (Day 6) and will run through to August 20 (Day 15).
These 5 athletes take the overall 2016 Australian Olympic Team to 187 from 18 sports, with an expected final Team of over 400 athletes. Complete biographies on all selected athletes here>>>