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Commonwealth Games 2014 – Day 1: Kenya Go Down Fighting

Kenya suffered close losses to Uganda and Ghana in the group stage of the Mixed Team event at the 2014 Commonwealth Games on the opening day.

After a 2-3 defeat to Uganda in the morning session yesterday, the Kenyans again fell by a similar margin to Ghana.

Badminton players were among the early starters of the Games. The Mixed Team competition consists of a group stage followed by knock-out. The final of the Mixed Team event is on Monday 28 July. The individual competition will begin the next day and end on Sunday 3 August.

The swank Emirates Arena, venue of the badminton event, saw some high-profile visitors yesterday. Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), IOC Sports Director Kit McConnell, WADA President Sir Craig Reedie, Commonwealth Games Director of Sport Matthew Curtain, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, were among the dignitaries who checked out the badminton action.

The Group B encounter between Uganda and Kenya got off to a thrilling start, with Uganda’s Wilson Tukire/Margaret Nankabirwa edging past Joseph Githitu/Lavina Martins 19-21 21-14 21-13 in the opening Mixed Doubles match. Edwin Ekiring made it 2-0 for Uganda beating Victor Odera Munga 21-17 21-7 in Men’s Singles before Kenya pulled one back through Mercy Mwethya Joseph in Women’s Singles over Daisy Nakalyango, 21-14 21-15.

However, Kenya could not capitalise on that breach as Ekiring and Tukire combined in Men’s Doubles to stop Githitu/Patrick Mbogo 21-17 21-13 to clinch the tie for Uganda. Kenya narrowed the deficit by clinching the Women’s Doubles match through Mercy Mwethya Joseph/Lavina Sabastian Martins (above) over Daisy Nakalyango/Margaret Nankabirwa 21-19 21-17.

It was déjà vu for Kenya in the evening session against Ghana. Having fallen behind 0-2 due to losses in Mixed Doubles and Men’s Singles, Kenya fought back through Mercy Mwethya Joseph who beat Evelyn Botwe 21-11 21-10 in Women’s Singles. However, Daniel Sam and Emmanuel Donkor (BWF home page) saw Uganda safely home by outclassing Patrick Mbogo/Victor Munga in Men’s Doubles, 21-14 21-15. Kenya made it 2-3 by winning the Women’s Doubles through Mercy Joseph/Lavina Martins over Stella Amasah/Evelyn Botwe 21-17 21-16.

Meanwhile, Malaysia began their defence of the Mixed Team title with a whitewash of Barbados. Malaysia, who are in line for a hat-trick of Mixed Team titles, comfortably got past their opponents 5-0 in Group A.

Malaysia were without the services of their spearhead Lee Chong Wei but were too good for Barbados. Mixed Doubles pair Chan Peng Soon/Lai Pei Jing outplayed Andre Padmore/Shari Watson 21-11 21-6 in the opening match. Chong Wei Feng made it 2-0 for Malaysia by easing past Dakeil Thorpe 21-6 21-7 in Men’s Singles. Tee Jing Yi wrapped up the tie for Malaysia 21-8 21-3 over Mariama Eastmond in Women’s Singles. Tan Wee Kiong/Goh V Shem (Men’s Doubles) and Woon Khe Wei/Vivian Hoo (Women’s Doubles) too did not allow their opponents to get into double digits in any game.

Rivals India too notched 5-0 verdicts in their Group B ties against Ghana and Uganda, while hosts Scotland dealt a similar drubbing to Seychelles and Guernsey. With India’s victories never in doubt, they even experimented by pairing singles players Srikant Kidambi (above)/PC Thulasi and Guru Sai Dutt/PV Sindhu in the Mixed Doubles against Ghana and Uganda respectively.

Four-time winners England had little trouble against Northern Ireland (5-0) in Group F. Another Group F tie ended 5-0 for Jersey against Mauritius.

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