After a clerical error at the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto prevented Prince Rupert product Adrian Liu from competing in men’s doubles badminton, the athlete may not be heading to the 2016 Olympic Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, but he’s caught fire this summer nonetheless after an excellent showing in Calgary at the Yonex Canada Open.
From June 28 – July 3, Liu and his new men’s doubles partner Toby Ng made it all the way to the final at the event in Calgary, hosting some of the world’s best badminton players in a tune-up tournament before Rio.
Top seed men’s doubles pair Manu and Sumeeth Reddy, from India, defeated Liu and Ng 21-8, 21-14 in the final. The Reddys were the first Indian men’s doubles duo to qualify for the Rio Olympics.
“The Indian pair was a strong pair to play in the finals as they are experienced and have played together for awhile, not to mention [ranked] within the top 20 [in the world],” said Liu last week.
“They really exposed our inexperience as a team, but at the same time we took a lot of positives away from that match that we can work on.”
To reach the Canada Open final, Liu and Ng beat Indonesia’s Jeka Wiratama and Canada’s Nyl Yakura 21-13, 19-21, 21-15. They followed that performance with another dominant victory over Canadians Byron Christopher Holcek and Kevin Lee 21-16, 21-9 in a match that lasted only 20 minutes.
In the quarter-finals, Liu and Ng went toe-to-toe with Canada’s Kevin Barkman and Kyle Grymonpre, who they defeated 21-10, 21-13.
That win pitted the duo against Ireland’s Joshua and Sam Magee in the semifinals. The Canadians eliminated the Irish 21-19, 21-11 to reach the final against the Indians.
“Definitely the highlights of the competition had to be the first round against Nyl and Jeka and the semifinals against Ireland, since that was my first semifinal at the Canada Open Grand Prix,” Liu said.
“I didn’t have many expectations coming into the Canada Open seeing as it was [Toby and my] first tournament together and we had not much sparring in preparation for this competition. I think what made Toby and I successful here was just the sheer will to want to win each match. Our chemistry wasn’t as solid yet because we are a new team, but both came [of us] came into this tournament based on experience.”
Despite not qualifying for the Olympic Games in Rio, Liu said he will continue to coach and play this year, and keep playing with Toby, the brother of Liu’s longtime former doubles’ partner, Derrick.
“I’m not 100 per cent certain on my plans this coming year for badminton besides coaching and staying in shape a little … As for this season, I will remain playing with Toby. As for the future of this pairing or [Derrick’s], it’s uncertain because of all the hardship that I endured this past Olympic qualifying year,” Liu said.
Immediately after Liu and Ng’s runner-up placing in Calgary, the duo took part in the 2016 Yonex US Open in Los Angeles from July 5 – 10.
Liu and Toby Ng defeated Scotland’s Alistair Casey and America’s Kyle Emerick 21-15, 21-11 in the first round of the men’s doubles’ division, but fell to South Korea’s Yong Sung Yoo and America’s Tony Gunawan 16-21, 13-21 in the second round. In mixed doubles’ Liu paired with Canadian Michelle Tong, and the duo lost in the first round to Japan’s Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino 15-21, 13-21.
Liu is currently ranked 45th in the world in men’s doubles.