The 18-year-old lost out in three sets to Li Shifeng in Buenos Aires.
NHAT NGUYEN’S EPIC quarter-final performance at the Youth Olympic Games wasn’t enough to prevent him crashing out at the hands of fifth seed Li Shifeng.
Ireland’s badminton ace was one of the country’s brightest hopes of a medal at these Games and justified those expectations by claiming the first set in a narrow 15-21, 21-19, 21-19 defeat in Buenos Aires.
Nguyen led the decisive set 14-12 but after Li requested a short break to deal with cramps, he finished strongest to grind out victory.
“I have no words,” he said after his match. “I think the break helped him when he was tired, it was smart of him to do that.
“That’s the game. I wouldn’t say I lost my focus after the break, it’s just that he did better from that point. He was more focused after that.
“Obviously he’s a very attacking player and I had to neutralise him and had to work well on defence. I did that well, but didn’t do it well enough towards the end.”
BADMINTON Nhat Nguyen relieved to pull ahead in this tight battle – current score 15-14 pic.twitter.com/IUYuiPa6mf
Nguyen raced into an 11-5 lead in the opening set and kept his Chinese opponent at bay to extend his lead to 18-11 before closing out the set 21-15.
Shifeng battled back in the second and managed to stay with the 18-year-old to tie it up at 13-13. Overtaking Nguyen for the first time, Shifeng moved into a 17-16 lead before the pair were level once again at 19-19.
He went on to claim the second set by two points as the pair headed into the deciding set level.
BADMINTON Nhat wins first game 21-15. More of that!! #teamireland ☘️🇮🇪🏸 #buenosaires2018 pic.twitter.com/7UrSasX6ak
After a cagey start that saw just a point separating them at the halfway point, the pair then went level twice again as their match drew to a close.
With Nguyen leading by one heading into the final stages, Shifeng proved his mettle and edged the young Irishman 21-19 for the second set in succession to advance to the semi-final.
Elsewhere at the Games, Niamh Coyne clinched silver in the women’s 100m breaststroke with Team Ireland team-mate Mona McSharry missing out on a place on the podium by two hundredths of a second.
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