Commonwealth Games: S'pore showcase badminton squad depth in early mixed team rounds

Singapore shuttlers Jessica Tan and Andy Kwek competing in Birmingham, on July 29, 2022. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

BIRMINGHAM -  Singapore demonstrated their considerable strength in depth as they prepare for a deep run into the Commonwealth Games badminton mixed team event.

As they eased past Mauritius and Barbados 5-0 at the National Exhibition Centre Hall 5 on Friday (July 29) morning, they were able to try out new doubles partnerships, blood younger single players and also allow key players to rest for their next Group B match against Barbados in the afternoon.

In the opening mixed doubles match, Jessica Tan was not paired with her regular partner and husband Terry Hee. Instead she teamed up with Andy Kwek for the first time to beat Tejraj Pultoo and Kobita Dookhee 21-8, 21-11.

Amid a light-hearted atmosphere where the Singapore shuttlers cheered loudly for their teammates, Kwek joked that he has more chemistry with Tan than Hee does.

Tan added: "It's encouraging that our team have a pretty strong line-up regardless of who we field."

In the women's singles, world No. 19 Yeo Jia Min cruised to a 21-2, 21-2 win over 381st-ranked Jemimah Leung. Despite the clear mismatch, the Singaporean appreciated the opportunity to test out the conditions.

She said: "Whether the opponent is strong or not, we want to maintain our focus. I just maintained the quality of my strokes because I treat this as preparation for the next match."

World champion Loh Kean Yew then beat 107th-ranked Georges Paul 21-10, 21-12 in the men's singles, going up a gear after being held 9-9 by his fellow Olympian in the first game.

The world No. 9 said: "The shuttle moved quite a bit slower than the court-testing session, so I needed some time to get used to it at the start. My opponent's attack is also quite good, so I'm happy to complete my first match with a win."

Crystal Wong and Jin Yujia similarly cruised past Loma Bodha and Dookhee 21-8, 21-6 in the women's doubles before Loh Kean Hean and Hee beat Alexandre Bongout and Pultoo 21-9, 21-10 in the men's doubles to cap the rout.

In the later match against Barbados, Hee and Tan reunited to beat Shae Martin and Tamisha Williams 21-5, 21-10.

Jason Teh then got his first taste of Commonwealth Games action when he beat Kennie King 21-9, 21-7 in the men's singles, and Insyirah Khan followed suit in the women's singles with a 11-1, 11-4 win over Sabrina Scott.

It was another new men's doubles pairing of Kean Hean and Kwek but they still managed to put King and Martin away by a score of 21-6, 21-10, before Wong and Jin cruised to a 21-5, 21-9 victory over Scott and Williams.

Singapore won a silver in the mixed team event at Manchester 2002 and a bronze at Glasgow 2014.


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