Evans bows out with head held high
Published 16/08/2016 | 02:30
Scott Evans' Olympic odyssey came to a end in the Riocentro last night when he lost 21-16 21-12 to No 4 seed Viktor Axelsen.
The Dubliner knew the task he faced before he stepped on the court three to face a Danish opponent who is the current European champion and was a bronze medallist in the World championships in 2014.
The Irish male fans whipped off their tops and waved them in the air to greet the arrival of Evans, who scored the first point before falling 4-1 behind.
But a spirited rally took the Irishman into a 6-5 lead. Evans, however, was making more errors than his opponent and two in a row helped the Dane into a 9-7 lead.
Evans battled manfully to stay in it but Axelsen kept his nose in front.
Initially the second game was tight as Evans made light of his opponent's reputation. But Axelsen's relentless pressure wore down the Dubliner, surging into a 9-3 lead. Evans had to be content with scoring only the occasional point now as his frustration, and the deficit, grew.
Seven points on the spin gave Axelsen a 18-5 advantage; Evans responded heroically to pull back seven points in a row, but the favourite but he saw out the game and match by scoring the last two points.
As he had done in his previous two encounters Evans whipped off his top and as the Irish fans chanted 'there is only one Scott Evans'. He exited the Olympic stage his head held high.
The badminton venue in Rio is scarcely a stone's throw from the boxing arena which has proved a graveyard for so many of Ireland's Olympic dreams.
But Evans (28) has been one of the success stories of the Games - despite this loss.
He fashioned two memorable wins - his first in three appearances at the Games - against Germany's Mark Zwiebler and local favourite Ygor de Oliveira in the group stages to become the first ever Irish badminton player to advance to the business end of the tournament.
But this last-16 match proved a bridge too far for Evans, who has been based in Denmark since moving there as a 17-year-old to train as a full-time professional.
TODAY'S OLYMPIC DIARY
Round 1 Men's 400m hurdles:
Thomas Barr 1.49am (Tuesday night/Wednesday morning)
Women's Pole Vault qualification:
Tori Pena 1.45pm
Quarter-finals of bantamweight (56kg): Michael Conlan v Vladimir Nikitin (3.30).
Semi-final men's 3m springboard Oliver Dingley 2.0 and 10.0 (final)
Medal Race Laser Radial: Annalise Murphy 1.0pm;
Races 10, 11 and 12 49erFX: Andrea Brewster and Saskia Tidey 5.05, 6.05 and 7.05.
Races 10, 11, 12 49er: Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern 5.05, 6.05 and 7.05