A year ago, they were the toast of this city – copping World Championship silver in the Mixed Doubles at the same venue – but this morning they failed to reignite their faltering Olympic medal dream, crashing out of the London Olympics at the hands of German rivals, Michal Fuchs and Birgit Michels, in a tense three setter.
After their celebrated exploits last summer at Wembley Arena, the world number 10 entered this tournament with high hopes and obviously wanting to please legions of home fans. However, they just could not reproduce the on-court magic, losing 21-11 17-21 14-21.
Things again began brightly for the Brits (pictured right) in the feature 8.30 a.m. clash. They settled quicker and once more appeared to have a firm grip on proceedings, taking the first game.
Yet again, as against the Russians on Saturday, appearances were deceptive.
Germany’s world number 22 pair soon found their rhythm and levelled at one game apiece. Michels, seizing the momentum, began controlling the net exchanges and she and her partner swept to victory, 21-14, in the deciding rubber.
“What can I say we are now firmly back in the game here,” declared an exuberant Fuchs.
“They (Adcock/Bankier) looked very nervous. The further the match went on and, even when we went behind, we stayed calm and felt good as we were enjoying our time on court. It’s now a winner-take-all match against the Russians as we still expect Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei (the Chinese) to top the group.”
The British teammates were understandably distraught, tears rolling down Bankier’s face in the post-match media scrum.
“It’s almost impossible to put into words how I feel right now. I am devastated and losing two games that we targeted to win is hard to digest.”
Adcock remained upbeat and vowed to keep fighting, with one group match remaining.
“Of course I am gutted but we still have another game and more than anything we want to give the crowd here a win as they deserve it. They have been amazing,” he said, paying tribute to the large numbers of supporters who turned out for both their losing causes.
Meanwhile, at age 32, Lee Hyun Il continued to roll back the years in his quest to win that elusive Olympic medal in Men’s Singles. The Korean, who lost to Chen Jin of China in the third-place play-off in Beijing, got off to an amazing start against the lone opponent in his group, Rodrigo Pacheco Carrillo of Peru.
The South American, supported by his family and fiancée, was virtually a spectator as the Asian world number ten sprinted to an easy 21-12 21-7 triumph. When asked about his intentions at these Olympic Games, Lee Hyun Il replied emphatically: “I am here in my last Olympics to win a medal. This is my ultimate goal.”
Carrillo, 29, was philosophical in his assessment of the outcome.
“It was great to play at the Olympics knowing my family was here supporting me. The Olympics is special and is set apart from any other tournament. Today I played against a guy who has proven Olympic pedigree.”
Another Mixed Doubles partnership – Tontowi Ahmad (pictured left) and Liliyana Natsir (Beijing 2008 silver medallist with Nova Widianto) – underlined their medal credentials, dismissing the challenge of Korean duo, Lee Yung Dae and Ha Jung Eun. The Indonesians, already victors over India’s Jwala Gutta and Diju V, now sit atop Group C after beating the Koreans 21-19 21-12.
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The 2012 London Olympic Games has turned out to be a nightmare for the hosts as Adcock/Bankier was handed their second group defeat as Germany's Fuchs/Michels outplayed the Brits in three games (11-21 21-17 21-14).