Even before the tournament started Team England were touted as being outright favourites in the doubles events at the Swedish International. Arriving in Stockholm with a strong team of seasoned Super Series veterans the English certainly delivered on finals day.
The unlikely heroes for the English today were the women’s doubles pairing of Heather Olver and Mariana Agathangelou (pictured).
The now well travelled English duo were clinical in their victory over the powerful American pair of Obanana and Lee.
It is always difficult to single out any player in a particular partnership but today Heather Olver pulled most if not all the string as the English girls stomped to victory. Olver’s serve was impeccable especially coming of the back of some poorer serving performances at the end of 2011 and partner Agathangelou fed off her sidekicks confidence to take a much deserved win in two sets.
“We were very wary of the strong attacking presence of the Americans today so I think tactically we had the correct game plan. It is great to come here and win so early in the New Year and we have been putting a lot of hard work in at home so it’s nice to see it paying off” commented Olver & Agathangelou to Badminton Europe.
Nathan Robertson and Jenny Wallwork put some poor end of year form behind them to bounce back in Sweden with a victory in the mixed doubles. Not only did the English pair win the title but also gained a significant points advantage over Olympic rivals Adcock and Bankier as the race to London hots up.
The men’s doubles title went back to Russia in the hands of Sozonov and Ivanov. The 1.98m tall Ivanov pulling all the strings in the Russian partnership on finals day.
In the singles there was a welcomed return to the winners circle for Pi Hongyan. The French number one, who was being followed all week by her own personal TV crew as they make a documentary about her journey to the Olympics, ended the good run of Kristina Gavnholt to take the title in two straight games.
“After suffering so many injuries this tournament was important for me to come back and get some games and confidence back. I am older now and it takes me longer to recover from Injury but I am still very young inside so I have to try and find the balance between both” said a happy Hongyan to Badminton Europe after her final win.
Finally Eric Pang was unable to turn his good form into a victory as the Dutchman suffered a defeat in two sets after leading 19-17 in the second. Yan Kit Chan came back with 4 straight points to take the title and fell to the floor in do so, the first show of real emotion from the Hong Kong athlete all week.
The finals results:
MS: Yan Kit Chan (HKG) - Eric Pang 21-17, 21-19
WS: Pi Hongyan (FRA) - Kristina Gavnholt (CZE) 21-13, 21-17
MD: Ivanov/Sozonov (RUS) - De Ruiter/Khodabux (NED) 21-16, 21-9
WD: Olver/Agathangelou (ENG) - Lee/Obanana (USA) 21-15, 21-12
MX: Robertson/Wallwork (ENG) - Kolding/Houmann (DEN) 21-17, 21-17
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Article and Images by Mark Phelan live in Stockholm