Asian Games: Favourites Falter

Asian Games: Favourites Falter

One defending gold medallist and a pair of world champions saw their Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games end abruptly in the Round of 16.

Kunlavut Vitidsarn was the first world champion to succumb, although it took Lee Zii Jia three games to see off the Thai. Vitidsarn took the first game 21-10 but got the energy sapped out of him in the 21-19 second game loss. The world No.4 was a spent force by the third game, going down tamely 21-6 in 18 minutes.

“Zii Jia really played well. Everyone could see I was exhausted. I couldn’t control the match,” conceded the 22-year-old, who outlasted Kodai Naraoka to win gold in Denmark five weeks ago.

“I’ve been resting and training after winning the World Championship. There are a lot of tournaments, so I don’t really get enough good training time. I need to train more.”

Another of the Copenhagen 2023 success stories – Seo Seung Jae and Kang Min Hyuk – suffered a 19-21 18-21 21-13 defeat to homesters Liu Yu Chen/Ou Xuan Yi, softening the blow for Team China after the loss of men’s doubles third seeds Liang Wei Kang/Wang Chang early in the day. The world No.2 tandem fell to Seo and Kang’s compatriots Choi Sol Gyu/Kim Won Ho 10-21 21-18 21-23.

“I’ve been having a fever since the semifinal of the team event. I felt better today but I still couldn’t play my best,” said Wang.

Seo, however, is into the mixed doubles quarterfinals after he and Chae Yu Jung defeated fourth seeds Dechapol Puavaranukroh/Sapsiree Taerattanachai 21-13 21-11.

Tai Tzu Ying, women’s singles gold medallist four years ago in 2018, also saw her campaign cut short by Japanese Aya Ohori 21-16 21-14.