Badminton star Nhat Nguyen saw his Olympics come to an end in Tokyo on Wednesday night following a brave, battling performance against 10th-seeded Wang Tzu-Wei of Chinese Taipei.
Nguyen struggled to find his rhythm through the opening game, which he lost 21-12, but he rallied in the second, tying the match after taking it 21-18. Nguyen went toe to toe with Tzu-Wei through much of the decider but in the end he just didn’t have enough, losing it 21-12.
The 21-year-old Dubliner had got his campaign off to a perfect start in the group stages on Monday with a comfortable straight-sets win over Sri Lanka’s Nikula Karunaratne, but with only the winner advancing to the knockout stages in the three-man group, he needed to take victory in his final game.
Nonetheless his performance tonight caps a promising Olympic debut for the Vietnamese-born Nguyen, who moved to Ireland with his family when he was six and who appears poised to fly the flag for Irish badminton for many years to come.
“I’m very proud,” he said.
“At 11-all in the third set we were very close and I didn’t handle that situation that well. He wants to attack and I was comfortable in defence so next time in this situation I have to be more the aggressor. I have no regrets. I’m looking forward to the future and I can use this experience to my advantage.
“More matches like this will definitely help me. I wanted to leave it all on the court and it felt I left it all on the court, fighting. Every point, I didn’t want to give up and I’ll use this for the next two Olympics. I wanted to come into this tournament to enjoy it, give it my all and I know if I can do that I can challenge the best in the world. I’ll need more situations like this to take the win next time.
“I want to say a special shout-out to all the support. It’s overwhelming and I haven’t had time to reply to all the messages.”