Jaspar Yu Woon Chai (L) gets ready to serve against Hu Yun of Hong Kong, China in their Group D match of the men's single events at the Rio Olympics. Picture: Courtesy of Secretariat of Brunei Contingent to the 2016 Olympics
JASPAR Yu Woon Chai went down fighting in Brunei’s badminton debut 21-16, 21-15 to World No 12 Hu Yun of Hong Kong, China in his Group D opener of the men’s singles event at the Rio Olympics yesterday.
It was a nervy start for the national shuttler resulting in several unforced errors allowing Hu to jump out to a five-point lead at 11-6 before Yu scored three straight points at the Riocentro Pavilion 4. The match was more about placement instead of power and the more experienced Hu extended his advantage to 17-11 before Yu rallied for three straight points.
However, his momentum was halted after playing his shot long to make it 18-14 and that was as close as it got in the first game. Hu was relentless in the second game as he stormed off to five unanswered points with the lead getting to as large as nine points.
The positives came late on as Yu managed to save four match points in his fight back but it was simply not enough to see him fall to the Hong Kong Chinese in 32 minutes. Yu felt the jitters on the big stage and thought that his opponent was simply the better player.
“It’s nice to finally step onto the court in the Olympics and I think I was a little nervous stepping in,” said Yu in an interview with The Brunei Times after the loss. “As many tournaments I have played in, nothing quite match the spirit and atmosphere of the Olympics. It gets to you somehow,” he added.
“Hu Yun is a very experienced player and he’s a lot better too. I only wanted to do my best against him,” continued the 27-year-old. Yu will next face World No 34 Pablo Abian of Spain today (7.30am Brunei time) in his final group match.
When asked on what improvement he needs ahead of the encounter, Yu replied: “I felt I didn’t enjoy my time on the court as much, a bit reserved, hence my errors. “I hope to be able to play freely tomorrow. It’s the Olympics and I have to give my all for my country,” he added. “I think I first have to start controlling the rallies. I know I can so that’s a start and I also want to initiate more attacking play. From there I’ll try to create more chances,” continued Yu.
The national shuttler also paid tribute to the people supporting him from the sultanate. “I have received a lot of encouragement from back home in Brunei despite the huge time difference. My family and friends, a lot of them are watching me compete live on TV,” said Yu, who is the lowest ranked player in the competition at 407.
“I want to let them know I see and hear all of their kind wishes. I will continue to give my all for Brunei against Spain tomorrow. “On a personal level, I’ve always wanted to have my parents watch me play live on TV and I’m glad I’ve finally done it for them. Their support is crucial,” he added.
His coach and manager at the Olympics, Zuno Kartono Hj Ali, felt that he put up a good performance but there is still room for improvement. “He played well for a good game. He was able to find opportunities to get points and also able to defend and counter Hu Yun’s attack,” said Zuno.
“But he will need to find more variation of play and opportunities also to control more of the court game,” he concluded.