Jaspar Yu Woon Chai in action during his Group D match against World No 34 Pablo Abian of Spain in the men's singles event at the Rio Olympics yesterday. Picture: Courtesy of Secretariat of Brunei Contingent to the 2016 Olympics
BRUNEI’S badminton debut at the Rio Olympics came to an end yesterday after Jaspar Yu Woon Chai fell 21-12, 21-10 to World No 34 Pablo Abian of Spain in Group D of the men’s singles event.
It was the second straight defeat for the Bruneian in as many days after dropping 21-16, 21-15 to World No 12 Hu Yun of Hong Kong in his opener of the three-player group. Yu went on the attack and was moving the court freely compared to his opening match to lead 4-2 early on at the Riocentro Pavilion 4.
Abian came back to tie the scores at 8-8 before taking control to scores seven unanswered points. Yu stopped the rot with a smash down the centre but that was as close as it got as Abian ran away in the opening game. Yu was plagued by errors after playing the ball into the net several times in the second game allowing Abian to open up a seven-point gap.
The highlight included a superb rally — 33 strokes — but unfortunately Yu lost the point despite going to ground trying to return a smash to see the deficit widened to 16-8. Abian built his cushion up to as large as 10 points and needed only one match point after smashing down the left to close out the encounter in 33 minutes.
Yu felt that he started off strongly but his opponent adjusted well to his tactics that resulted in his defeat.
“The start of the game was very smooth for me. I felt good on court and attacked when I had the chance,” said Yu in an interview with The Brunei Times after the defeat. “I think Pablo also tried to attack but I defended well early on. I prepared the day before but towards middle he changed his game play,” he added.
“He became a lot more patient and was willing to play rally style. I became less patient and tried to attack when the time wasn’t right. I think the errors came from there. “I think he’s a very straight forward player, willing to work hard and wear down opponents. He doesn’t make many mistakes but I feel I wasn’t quick enough to out move him,” continued the 27-year-old.
Brunei’s historical appearance in the sport at the Aug 5-21 Games was made possible after Yu was awarded one out of the three Tripartite Commission Invitation places in May. It was a dream come true for Yu and he will cherish the moments in hopes of better things to come in the future.
“I’m sad to say goodbye to the Olympics. If I had the chance, I want to compete again tomorrow and the day after,” said Yu. “I fell in love with being on court again. I think having the Brunei contingent supporting me, knowing them waving the Brunei flag, the stands who were Brazilian were calling my name and knowing that it’s air live on TV back home.
“I enjoyed the occasion and whole heartedly wanted to do well for everyone. But make no mistake, I’m really happy. This is a huge learning point in my career. I have gained a lot of precious lessons and memories here and it can only get better,” he added.
“I hope through this Olympics, more young players in Brunei will start to gain interest in badminton and train harder. After all, badminton is officially an Olympics sport for Brunei,” continued the national shuttler.
When asked on what is next for him, Yu replied: “I’ve spoken to HRH Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah (the president of the Brunei Darussalam National Olympics Council) during his stay here in Rio.
“We discussed a few things looking into the future and he was very supportive towards me and I thank him for his encouragement,” he added. “We’ve touched upon the Commonwealth Games in 2018 but the Prince told me I will have to keep improving.
“I’ll continue to work hard of course and that’s the two-year plan. Short term wise, I have registered for Korean Super Series next month. If I get to play, that would be my first ever Super Series event. So I will keep pushing,” he concluded.
He went on thank everyone back home in Brunei for all the support through his Olympics journey.