Australia’s rivalry with New Zealand at the Oceania Championships has continued in emphatic style and no doubt the chance for TOTAL BWF Thomas & Uber Cup qualification on the minds of both nations’ players before the start of play on Saturday. What ensued for both the Men’s and Women’s matches was nothing short of electric!
The matches to decide the gold medal in the Men’s draw were filled with drama from the word go. Australia’s Anthony Joe (AJ) took on reigning men’s singles champion Abhinav Manota from NZ. AJ took a commanding lead up 10 – 4 through the midpoint of the first game, but Abhinav fought back to 16 all before the pair traded blows point for point through to 26-28 going the way of the Kiwi. Unfortunately, AJ was unable to keep the onslaught going in the second with Abhinav taking it 21-16.
No doubt spurred on by AJ’s valiant effort, both Jacob Schuler and Ying Xiang Lin were able to take wins against past and present Oceania Individual singles specialists Oscar Guo (2019 Champion) and Edward Lau (2020 runner-up). Wins in these two games put Australia ahead in the race for the gold medal and qualification rights to the Thomas Cup in May this year.
What came next was a tactical masterstroke by Coach Stuart Brehaut splitting 2016 Olympic pair Matt Chau and Sawan Serasinghe and stalwart pair Simon Leung and Mitchell Wheller. What resulted was a comprehensive victory for Matt Chau and Mitchell Wheller against Maia Phillips and Dylan Soedjasa, and in doing so securing the gold medal for Australia! Simon and Sawan had a similar victory and further cemented Australia bragging rights for another year in four of the five matches.
An outstanding result for our Men’s team who were able to show grit and determination to take the championships for a second year running and secure themselves a place at the TOTAL BWF Thomas Cup in Denmark in May this year.
After seeing the Men’s team overcome the Kiwi’s for the gold medal the Australian’s Women’s team were out to do exactly the same and continue their amazing record of four consecutive trophies.
Women’s singles champion Wendy Chen was first up against long time rival Sally Fu, the two have faced off five times at these championships and this match was to prove their tightest yet! Both games went through to extension, Wendy took the first 26-24, the second 28-26 and extending her unbeaten record to put Australia in a good position to begin.
Next up was Lousia Ma, the Individual Championships runner-up, who was able to show composure and class in the second under the pressure of 3 match points from her opponent Shuanna Li. Lousia held steadied herself from 20-17 down to take the second game 22-20 and went on to take the third 21-15.
With the gold medal on the line the Kiwi’s needed a lift which came from Catelyn Rozario who was able to take the match from Tiffany Ho 21-18, 21-19. The result here left the gold medal hopes alive for NZ and with two matches to come it was shaping up to go either way. However, maybe inspired by the Men’s success in the morning Stuart Brehaut made the same call to split the dominant pair of Gronya Somerville and Setyana Mapasa, and BA Junior squad members Sylvina Kurniawan and Angela Yu. Again with shades of the events from the morning Mapasa and Kurniawan were able to comprehensively win their match against Erena Calder-Hawkins and Anona Pak, 21-11, 21-14.
The final match for bragging rights went the way of our Aussie’s with Gronya Somerville and Angela Yu dispatching of Sally Fu and Alyssa Tagle 21-15, 21-17. With this win the Women have booked their tickets to go along to the Uber Cup in Denmark in May and continue their amazing run of victories at the Oceania championships with their fifth consecutive win, well done ladies!!
Photo Credit: Badminton Oceania & Ballarat Badminton
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