Henry earns crucial points for Olympics quest
Shayne Fairman, Sunday Gleaner Writer
Gareth Henry, Jamaica's top-ranked badminton player, boosted his chances of becoming the first Jamaican to play at the Olympics by picking up important qualifying points from the 29th Brazil International Badminton Cup, which served as qualification to the 2016 Rio Olympics that will be hosted in that country.
Henry won his two opening games and then lost in the round of 32 to walk away from the tournament with 920 points.
The Jamaican defeated Diego Fernandes of Brazil 11-8, 11-5, 11-5 in his first game, then turned back Thomas Padilha 11-8, 11-1, 11-2 in his second game later the same day. He was eliminated in the round of 32 on Thursday, where he lost to world number-66 ranked Sattawat Pongnairat of the United States.
Henry took the first set 11-6, but the American hit back to take sets two and three 11-10 and 11-10. Henry outscored the American 11-7 in the third set, but went down 6-11 in the decider.
"It was a tough loss to take, considering I lost the game in sudden death points," said the player.
He added that he achieved some objectives from the tournament.
"I took decent points from the tournament, despite losing. I also made the main draw of a big tournament and earned 920 qualification points," he noted.
Henry has improved on his opening performance of the circuit - the Canadian Open in Toronto earlier this month. There he amassed only half the required points, 550, after being eliminated in the first round.
"I am content with the points gained this time," he noted. "It was my first time playing the 11-point game, so I had to adjust quickly."
He said that he will now work on technical aspects of his game.
"I will go on the court more confident and with a strategic approach to win against any opponent I face in my coming games."
The player will train with the Brazilian team for a week, then head to Suriname for his third tournament on the circuit.