It wasn’t gold, but Prince Rupert’s Adrian Liu and his men’s badminton doubles partner, Derrick Ng, had all of Canada’s – and Scotland’s – attention at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.
Liu and Ng, who had made it to the round of 16 thanks to a two-game set win over Ghana’s Emmanuel Donkor and Daniel Sam in the round of 32, faced the host country Scotland’s Robert Blair and Paul van Rietvelde for the rights to make it into the men’s doubles quarter-finals.
“Even though the crowd was amazing for their hometown players, the atmosphere that it created for the whole tournament was so energetic … they definitely made everyone there feel like superstars, asking for autographs and hand shakes after the match,” said Liu in an email while in Denmark training for the badminton world championships in Copenhagen later this month.
Despite a furious pace in the first game, and an extremely even score until the last seconds of the match, Blair and van Rietvelde took the affair 21-18.
The 14-minute game featured a 23-second rally in which 31 strokes were hit, with the average rally lasting seven seconds.
Liu’s and Ng’s service game, however, was their achilles’ heel as they won just six points with service in the first game and two in the second.
Compare that to their excellent non-service game where they matched the Scottish stride for stride with 12 points won without service in the first game (Scotland had 13) and 11 points in the second (Scotland had 11 as well).
Liu and Ng ended up losing the second game in the best-of-three affair, 21-13, perhaps losing momentum from their marginally slim defeat earlier.
“Derrick and I definitely did better as the tournament progressed,” Liu added.
“As the competition went on we had some tough matches against the Australians and the Indian pair during the team stage but still played better every match. We learned a great deal about how to play and construct better tactics on court so that was quite viable to take away from the matches.”
Liu is now training in Denmark with friend and former national Danish team member and top-10 player-turned coach, Thomas Stavangaard to prepare for worlds Aug. 25-31.
“We will focus a lot on the small, detailed aspects of our game and most importantly the mental part. The Danes are very tactical and mentally strong so I’m hoping to pick that up from them,” said Liu.
“One of the biggest highlights for me was the opening ceremony. The moment that my teammates and I got dressed in our attire, we were all so excited … right when you set foot in the stadium, the crowd just erupted as if we were all rock stars. I must have had the biggest smile on my face as we did our walk around the open track,” said Liu.
Canada’s Michelle Li won the country’s first-ever Commonwealth gold medal in women’s singles badminton.