Spain’s twice world champion Carolina Marin eased into the last 16 of the women’s singles at the Olympic badminton on Saturday but European power Denmark was dealt a crushing blow with one of their top medal hopes crashing out of the men’s doubles.
Marin, Europe’s biggest hope of winning a first badminton gold medal in 20 years, kept Dane Line Kjaersfeldt at bay in a 21-16 21-13 victory in their pool match to grab top spot in Group A.
“My performance was OK, not my best but the important thing is that I could win the game and of course I am looking forward to playing the next match,” the 23-year-old Spaniard told reporters.
Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen won the men’s doubles silver at the London Games four years ago but the Danish pair were sent packing at the Riocentro by South Korea’s Kim Gi-Jung and Kim Sa-rang.
There was another huge upset in the men’s doubles, with Russians Ivan Sozonov and Vladimir Ivanov edging South Korea’s top-seeded pair of Lee Yong-dae and Yoo Yeon-seong 21-17 19-21 21-16.
Bronze medallist Chen Long joined compatriot and champion Lin Dan in the last 16 of the men’s singles in a boost for badminton superpower China’s hopes of repeating its sweep of all five titles at London.
The crowds have been strong at the Riocentro and locals roared throughout home favourite Ygor Coelho de Oliveira’s opening singles defeat by Scott Evans, who became the first Irishman to reach the last 16 of an Olympic badminton tournament.
The 19-year-old De Oliveira, raised in a Rio slum where his father built a badminton club, battled hard but was fended off 21-8 19-21 8-21 by Dubliner Evans, who was jeered viciously by the crowd.
“Believe in your dreams,” De Oliveira said in a message to Brazil’s slum-dwelling children.
“Because your dreams can be true. I came from a favela and now I’m in the Olympics.”
Britain’s husband-and-wife team of Chris and Gabby Adcock, the world number seven pairing, failed to capitalise on their chances against the Polish duo of Robert Mateusiak and Nadiezda Zieba and were eliminated with a 18-21 27-25 21-9 loss.
The 40-year-old Mateusiak, the oldest man in the tournament, has little time to rest before the quarter-finals.
“I am not young anymore. I am 40-years-old,” he said.
“I need more time for regeneration. My physio has to do a lot of work with me today but I will be ready tomorrow for sure.”