By Daragh Ó Conchúir
Scott Evans created more sporting history for the nation at the Olympics by becoming the first Irishman to record a badminton victory in the Games and in the process, gave himself a magnificent opportunity of reaching the last 16.
It was sweet revenge for Evans, who lost to the German Marc Zwiebler in the opening round at Beijing eight years ago. Indeed he had never managed to beat the world No 14 in five attempts.
The 28-year-old from Dundrum, who left home at 16 to train at the European capital of badminton in Denmark, has endured many difficulties in recent years relating to injury, funding and coaching and saw his ranking plummet from a high of 24 to the 72nd.
He has always been considered a supremely talented operator though and is acknowledged as Ireland’s greatest ever player, and he finally came good on the grandest stage of all.
It all started pretty horribly though as he lost the first set 9-21 but showed his mettle to recalibrate from that juncture.
He went 2-0 up but then fell four points behind and it looked like it might get away from him. He continued to pressure Zwiebler into a litany of errors that moved the Irishman into a 14-12 lead.
He kept the pressure on and using his trademark smash effectively, overpowered the German to establish a 20-16 advantage.
He only needed the second set point and emitted a guttural roar of delight .
Again he showed his character in the decider as Zwiebler moved 5-1 ahead. But Evans never lost his nerve and kept his opponent moving, ultimately breaking him psychologically.
It was scarcely believable as Evans racked up point after point, registering 13 on the trot to establish a 16-6 advantage.
He wasn’t going to blow it from there, claiming four of the next five points to register a famous 9-21, 21-17, 21-7.