Thursday, February 18, 2016
TEXT BY DEV SUKUMAR | BADMINTONPHOTO
Australia won gold at the 2016 Oceania Mixed Team Championships today in Auckland after a 3-2 victory over New Zealand at the X-TRM North Harbour Centre.
Earlier in the day, Tahiti won bronze for the first time after a shock 5-0 win over New Caledonia.
In an enthralling Mixed Doubles opener, New Zealand siblings Oliver and Susannah Leydon-Davis gave the Kiwis a great start when they edged past Robin Middleton and Leanne Choo in the first game 21-19 only for the Australians to bounce back in the second 20-12. The Leydon-Davis partnership began the third game brightly but dropped a crucial point with the game poised 17-15 in Australia’s favour that allowed Middleton and Choo to win 21-15.
Asher Richardson restored parity for New Zealand with a comfortable 21-10 21-16 win over Michael Fariman in the Men’s Singles.
New Zealand edged in front when Leydon-Davis and Kevin James Dennerly-Minturn brushed past Matthew Chau and Sawan Serasinghe 21-19 21-18 in an impressive display in the Men’s Doubles.
It was Australia’s turn to clamber back into the tie when Hsuan-Yu Wendy Chen defeated Vicki Copeland 21-16 21-19 in the Women’s Singles.
With the match poised on a knife edge, Choo and Gronya Somerville (featured image) delivered a disciplined and efficient performance in beating Michelle Chan Ky and Danielle Tahuri 21-10 21-16, to confirm Australia’s fourth consecutive gold medal in this event.
Leanne Choo was pleased with the victory but said it was far from straightforward for her or her team-mates.
“Going into the matches I think everyone was pretty confident but Rob and I had a shaky start in the Mixed Doubles. After that it was such a scrap with New Zealand but the Aussies fought really well and we came out on top,” she said.
New Zealand coach Peter Jensen said there were far more positives than negatives despite coming up just short.
“I don’t see many low points. I think looking back when it was 15-17 in the third game in the Mixed Doubles that was a crucial point in the tie. It’s always small margins in matches that matter in the end.
“The final match in Women’s Doubles we figured out a little too late how we wanted to play them and we fell far behind. But it’s hard to point the finger at any one and we have to say congratulations to Australia,” he said.
The Mixed Doubles saw Leo Cucuel and Aurelie Bouttin take immediate control of their tie with experienced New Caledonian pair Loic Mennesson and Johanna Kou from start to finish, winning 21-14 21-14.
Cucuel, who said prior to the competition that Tahiti’s target was bronze, saw that dream come closer in the Men’s Singles when Quentin Bernaix defeated Thomas Lahaut 21-16 21-16 to hand the French Polynesians a 2-0 lead.
In the Women’s Singles, 13-year-old Chloe Segrestan caused a sensation when she beat New Caledonia’s experienced Cecilia Moussy. Moussy won the first game comfortably 21-6 but the match turned completely when Segrestan stormed back in the second to notch a thrilling 22-20 win.
With momentum hers, Segrestan sealed a 23-21 victory in the third to give Tahiti an unassailable 3-0 advantage and an historic first ever bronze medal.
The Oceania Men’s and Women’s Team Championships starts tomorrow and finishes Saturday 20 February at the same venue.
Updates on: oceaniabadminton.org
Click here for full results.