Scott Evans through to last 16 after taking out local favourite

Irish badminton star had to battle against partisan home crowd at Riocentro

Ireland’s Scott Evans celebrates defeating Ygor Coelho de Oliveira of Brazil during the men’s singles group K match at Riocentro in Rio de Janeiro. Photograph: David Ramos/Getty Images

In a story that he is determined to keep running, Ireland's Scott Evans continued his winning run in the badminton men's singles at the Riocentro Arena on Saturday to put himself into the last 16.

Yes the top came off again.

Playing in front of a full house in the evening session, where the crowd was fully behind Brazil's Ygor Coelho De Oliveira, Evans sped to a 9-3 lead in the first game after the opening point fell to his opponent amid loud partisan cheering from the fans.

But it was just a minor delay as Evans, fully in control of the group stage match, held his dominance and control over the 64th ranked player. Building on the early points he streaked away to 15-4 before pocketing the game 21- 6 for 1-0.


Evans, ranked at 72 in the world, returned after the short break with momentum firmly with him. But again he dropped the first point to the Brazilian, who had now found his rhythm and quickly built an early 7-1 lead.

“I wanted to play quickly and I did in the first game. But I dropped a bit in the second and he came into it,” said Evans.

It was in stark contrast to the first set with every point won by Oliveira cheered by the entire stadium of several thousand. It was not an atmosphere Evans would have been used to and the more points Oliveira stacked up the louder the crowd became.

More aggressive than in the first game and with the momentum absolutely turned around, the taller Oliveira took full advantage and within minutes had Evans chasing the second game from 12-3 down.

The Irish player hauled it back to 19-19 and in a fraught finish handed serve to Oliveira who went to 20-19. Evans then won serve but an aggressive play for the final point got Oliveira over the line 21-19 for 1-1.

By then the Mexican waves had begun. But a few points at the start of the third game importantly silenced the crowd. Evans, patient and holding his poise despite the noise, took a 6-1 lead and led 11-5 at the mid-game interval.

Oliveira complained as Evans changed the shuttlecock more frequently than he would have liked. But the Brazilian still found himself chasing the match.

“I knew I had a chance of doing it. I really worked hard to get in my best shape possible for this tournament,” added Evans.

Evan was in control and built his lead to 19-7 as Oliveria’s head went down, the Irish player closing it 21-8 for another historic victory.

The win arrives a day after the Dundrum native became the first Irishman to win a badminton match at the Olympics when he beat the highly regarded and higher ranked German 12th seed Marc Zwiebler 2-1.

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson is a sports writer with The Irish Times