Rio 2016: Chloe Magee loses opening match

Magee will now face Karin Schnaase with place on the last 16 on the line

Few Olympic events demand a more immediate moment of impact than badminton, and for Chloe Magee, that moment is already slipping away fast.

In losing her opening contest to world number two Wang "Kitty" Yihan from China – rather crushingly, actually, 21-7, 21-12 – it will now take something very special from Magee to get out of her qualifying group, with the veteran German Karin Schnasse up next tomorrow night (1.05am Saturday Irish time).

For Magee, competing in her third consecutive Olympics, Rio marked that latest and rare moment of making an impact in her sport, especially in an Irish context: badminton doesn’t get many moments of attention outside of the Olympics, and Magee entered the Riocentro Pavillion today determined to make the most of hers.

It didn't help that she faced a player of Wang's quality, the Shanghai-born woman determined to go one better in Rio, having been upset in the London 2012 gold-medal decider by compatriot Li Xuerui, largely unheralded before her Olympic triumph.


Everything about Wang's performance suggested she'll be hard to beat for that gold medal here. Magee managed to claim the opening point, but soon trailed 9-1. When she went 12-2 down, by hitting the net, she swung her racket several times in frustration, and from then on the 27 year-old from Donegal never looked comfortable, or indeed confident.

She briefly rallied, getting it back to 14-5, before Wang took control again, winning the last three points without replay, to win the game 21-7.

Magee had gone to considerable lengths to qualify for Rio, playing 22 tournaments to seal her place, and showed some off that resilience in the second game, keeping within distance, even if Wang moved clear 9-5 clear. By winning the next seven points, however, the Chinese woman once again took over, earning herself eight match points, at 20-12: she only needed one of them.

For Magee, who left the court shaking her head in disappointment, there is still the chance to make some amends against Schnasse, in the second game in Group P: "For me, it's always been about playing the best in the world, and that's what the Olympic Games, the big stage, is all about," she said.

World badminton has changed the Olympic rules so that nations can only enter two shuttlers into the singles events, which will make it harder for China to repeat their London domination: for Magee, however, there was no hiding from it.

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan is an Irish Times sports journalist writing on athletics