South Africa have wrapped up their Sudirman Cup badminton tournament on a victorious note.
They returned to South Africa on Sunday cock-a-hoop after winning their play-off match and now boast their highest world ranking ever.
They lost all three of their Group 3 matches but won the match that counted … the cross-over match against Italy. And that ensured their improved ranking.
‘We beat Italy 3-1, as in badminton we stop when a team has won three matches in the cross-over.’ said a happy coach Chris Dednam.
‘I gave Prakash Vijayanath a singles game for experience, which we lost. But we won the ladies’ singles, mixed doubles and mens’ doubles,’ he told Road to Rio 2016.
‘We have hereby made history as we achieved a world team ranking of 27, SA’s highest ranking ever.
‘I’m very proud of the team and this achievement if you consider that 180 countries are part of the Badminton World Federation.’
In the cross-over tie Vijayanath went down 14-21 6-21 to Rosario Maddaloni. But it was win, win, win for the ret of the team.
Mixed doubles pair Jennifer Fry (a baton bearer in the 2014 Commonwealth Games Baton Relay) and Andries Malan beat Karin Maran and Matteo Belucci 21-15 21-12, men’s double’s Andries Malan and Willem Viljoen beat Giovanni Greco and Maddaloni 23-21 18-21 21-8 and singles player Elme de Villiers beat Lisa Iversen 21-10 21-16.
That meant that De Villiers and Michelle Butler-Emmet didn’t need to take the court for their doubles match againt Maran and Jeanine Cicognini.
In their group matches, South Africa lost to Turkey, Czech Republic and Austria but certainly gained invaluable experience in the race for ranking points ahead of next year’s Rio Olympics.
Source : South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee