Henry, Ricketts mine silver at Jamaica Badminton Invitational tourney

Thursday, March 08, 2018

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The men's doubles pair of Gareth Henry and Samuel O'Brien Ricketts were the only Jamaicans to perform on the final day of the Jamaica International Invitational Badminton Tournament on Sunday.

On a day when five finals were contested, both men almost brought the house down despite finishing runners-up to the Indian pair of Kona Tarun and Saurabh Sharma in the final game of the five-day event held at the National Indoor Sports Centre.

The match, which lasted over half-an-hour, was the longest one of on the night. The Jamaican pair went into the contest as huge underdogs and battled bravely in the first set before going down 21-17 to the stylish Indians. But showing true Jamaican grit and determination, and buoyed on by a partial and vociferous home crowd, Henry and Ricketts started the second set with more belief and gusto.

The pair raced out to an early lead and seemed to have the set won at one point before appearing to play the occasion and not the match, losing their momentum. The experienced Indians then clawed their way back into the contest before winning the second set by the same margin of 21-17 to claim the gold medal.

In the women's doubles final the American pair of Jamie Hsu and Jamie Subandhi got the better of the Peruvian pair of Ines Castillo and Paula La Torre Regal in straight sets, 21-15, 21-8.

The mixed doubles final was an all-Cuban affair with Osleni Guerrero and Yeily Mari Ortiz Rodriguez defeating L Martinez Palacio and T Oropesa Pupo 22-20, 21-15.

The women's singles champion was Jamie Hsu of the USA, who defeated Daniela Macias 22-20, 21-8 as she left the tournament with two gold medals. The anti-climactic men's final went to Jason Anthony Ho-Shue, who defeated his Canadian teammate Xiaodong Sheng 21-6, 21-13. More had been expected of that final based on the performance of Sheng on the way to the final.

The mixed doubles pair of Garron Palmer and Christine Leyow also earned a bronze medal after falling to eventual winners, Osleni Guerrero and Yeily Mari Ortiz Rodriguez, in the semi-final on Saturday night.

President of the Jamaica Badminton Association Nichole Case was pleased with how well the event went.

“Overall, the event was executed successfully under the leadership of our tournament chairperson Mrs Terry Walker and with key sponsorship support from the Sports Development Foundation, the Jamaica Olympic Association and Pan Am Badminton Confederation,” she said.

A record number of overseas players participated in this fourth staging of the event, to the delight of the organisers.

“We garnered significant participation levels from over 70 international players, across several continents. Several of the players were repeat participants from previous years. All players and audience members commented that this was indeed a well-run professional event with top-class playing facilities at the National Indoor Sports Centre, and many have pledged to return in 2019,” she added.

The medals won were also a delight for the president along with the benefits that will accrue to the local participants.

“We are pleased that Jamaica was able to garner medals in mixed doubles and men's doubles. The level of play was high and the matches very competitive. Our players had the opportunity to measure their levels and gain world-ranking points. These points will contribute to our goal to have a few of our junior players qualify for the Youth Olympic Games this year, and of course we expect our senior players to move up in their international rankings towards their ultimate goal to make it to the Olympics in Tokyo in 2020,” also noted.

Joseph Clarke, a Jamaican court official who represented the country at the last Olympics in Brazil, was honoured by the sport's regional body.

“We had the pleasure of presenting an international award bestowed to Joseph Clarke from the Badminton World Federation (world governing body for the sport). He was awarded the BWF Meritorious Service Award, for his pioneering achievements as an International Court Official. We had more crowd support at this year's event; however, next year we aim to implement new strategies to fill the stands and expose more Jamaicans to the excitement of watching live international competitive badminton,” the president said.

— Dwayne Richards

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