2008, a tough one for Europe
Date: 6/28/2021 3:27 PM
Published by : Rasmus Bech(BEC)

For the first time, Europe did not win a medal at the badminton competition at the Olympic Games.

1992: One bronze medal
1996: One gold medal
2000: One silver medal and one bronze medal
2004: Two silver medals and one bronze medal
2008: No medals

The 2008 Beijing Games was in many way also a historical milestone for the sport of badminton: Chinese legend Lin Dan won his first Olympic gold medal, Zhang Ning became the first singles player to win back-to-back Olympic titles, and legendary players such as Markis Kido, Hendra Setiawan, Yu Yang and Lee Yong Dae claimed the gold medals.

But it was also the very first time that the European badminton players had to leave the Olympics empty handed.

No top4 seedings
In 2008, the Asian players dominated the world stage of badminton, and with no European seeded at the Olympics, the expectations were not that high going into the first Olympics being hosted in China.

The European drama already began months before the Olympics, when the Danish team picked the players for the men’s doubles category. The previous Danish national coach and now commentator, Steen Pedersen, chose to send the 2006 World Championships bronze medallists, Martin Lundgaard/Jens Eriksen to Beijing ahead of their younger Danish rivals, Mathias Boe/Carsten Mogensen.

- They have not delivered well, and they have lost to lower ranked players the last couple of months. Choosing them and believing that they can suddenly shine is not understandable for us, Carsten Mogensen said to Danish Broadcast Service after the decision was made.

Obviously, Boe and Mogensen, who became European legends, reacted to the decision with disappointment, and with Lundgaard and Eriksen losing to second seeds, Fu Haifeng/Cai Yun, the disappointment surely was not less for the two young Danes, who got their Olympic breakthrough four years later.

Final stop: Quarterfinals
For many of the European profiles the last match of the tournament was the quarterfinals.

Badminton Europe Hall of Fame member, Peter Gade, made it to the quarterfinals in men’s singles losing in straight games (13-21 16-21) to the 2008 Olympic champion, Lin Dan. Gade was the only European men’s singles to reach the last eight.

In the women’s singles category, Chinese born Europeans, Xu Huaiwen (Germany), and Pi Hongyan (France), both lost the Chinese opponents in the quarterfinals. The two Chinese finalists and top seeds, Xie Xingfang and Zhang Ning made life hard for the 2008 European Championships medallists.

Three in a row
In the mixed doubles category Europe had three chances to make it to the semi-finals, but the European Championships runner-up, Robert Mateusiak/Nadiezda Kostiuczyk (now Zieba) from Poland, Danes Thomas Laybourn/Kamilla Rytter Juhl and the 2004 Athens silver medallists, Nathan Robertson/Gail Emms, Team GB, all bowed out in the quarterfinals.

Matusiak and Kostiuczyk lost in two thrilling games, 20-22 21-23, to He Hanbin/Yu Yang, China, who won the bronze medals on home soil, while Laybourn and Rytter Juhl lost in three games 17-21 21-15 17-21 to Indonesian legends, Flandy Limpele/Vita Marissa.

Lee Yong Dae, then 20 years old, was the young star shining in Beijing University of Technology Gymnasium, and he outshined Nathan Robertson and Gail Emms, who lost 19-21 12-21 in the quarter-finals against the Koreans, who later won the Olympic gold medals.

Four point too short
Danes Lars Paaske and Jonas Rasmussen entered the Olympic tournament as unseeded, but beating the number three seeds, Lee Yong Dae and Jung Jae Sung, in straight games in the opening round and then beating fellow Europeans Michal Logosz and Robert Mateusiak in the quarter-finals cleared the way to the fight for medals for the 2003 World champions.

In the semi-finals, the later Olympic champions, Markis Kido and Hendra Setiawan, Indonesia, were too strong for the Danes, who lost in straight games, 19-21 17-21, and in the bronze medal match up, the margins were against the Danes.

The 2008 Olympic story for Paaske and Rasmussen had a Korean chapter in the beginning and in the end. The 2010 All England winners, lost the last match at the Olympics in three games 21-13 18-21 17-21, against Lee Jae Jin/Hwang Ji Man, and Europe left China without medals for the first time.

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