Prince Rupert badminton ace Adrian Liu held a nine-year Canadian championship winning streak in his hands against a top-ranked men’s doubles American duo last week. One false move, and an almost decade-long bragging rights title would be lost to our neighbours to the south on our own turf.
Liu and his men’s doubles partner Derrick Ng initially routed their American counterparts, 21-10 in the first game of the best-of-three finals at the 2014 Pan Am Badminton Championships in Markham, Ontario.
But that was followed by an extremely tight 22-20 loss that evened things up for the top-ranked Americans Phillip Chew and Sattawat Pongnairat.
On the line in the third and deciding set was a chance for Canada to even up the score 2-2 against the American badminton squad in the team event of the championships, one that Canada has dominated since 2004, topping America in all their victories, save for 2008 and 2009 when Peru was the runner-up.
A loss by Liu and Ng to Americans Chew and Pongnairat would seal a 3-1 American team score and dash any hopes of an astounding ninth-straight team championship by Canada on home soil.
A win would tie the team event 2-2 with a chance for the third and deciding match being women’s doubles where Canada’s best badminton player and world champion Michelle Li could partner with Rachel Honderich.
Liu and Ng didn’t fail their Canadian brethren and took the third game 21-17 in a tremendous upset over the mighty Yankees.
Li and Honderich won their match and Canada had come all the way back from a 2-0 deficit to win the Pan Am team event 3-2, with victories in men’s doubles, women’s doubles and women’s singles against losses to the U.S. In mixed doubles and men’s singles.
Their 3-2 victory as a team was the slimmest margin of error they’ve had since 2008.
Not only did Liu and Ng save the day for Canada, but they also defended their two-time men’s doubles Pan Am champions title in Markham on Sunday – fending off competitors from the U.S., Brazil, Peru, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Cuba and Mexico and once again beating Chew and Pongnairat in the final.
They swept the Americans 21-15, 21-13.