He Bing Jiao wins the crowd with a display that was all heart - Hindustan Times
close_game
close_game

He Bing Jiao wins the crowd with a display that was all heart

Mar 15, 2024 11:34 PM IST

The record books will show that Tai Tzu Ying won the All England quarter-final but there was so much more to the match

The record books will show that Tai Tzu Ying beat He Bing Jiao 16-21, 21-16, 22-20 in an hour and 15 minutes to win the quarter-final at the All England Open Badminton Championships on Friday. The score line of the third game tells you that it went right down to the wire too.

China's He Bing Jiao(AP)
China's He Bing Jiao(AP)

But what all these numbers and statistics won't tell you is that He played the final game with a 'partial tear' that would have made even moving around the court extremely painful. She didn't stop though, for that wouldn't be her.

Coming into the match, the sixth seed from China had a lopsided 4-16 head-to-head against the world No.3 but she started the match well, taking the first game 21-16.

Tai Tzu found her game in the second and jumped to a 19-10 lead before the Chinese gave us a glimpse of her fighting spirit by rallying to win a further six points before losing the second game 21-16.

Her spirited comeback in the second game served to lift her spirits for the decider and she ran off to a 8-0 lead to start the third. She was reading Tai Tzu well and that is far easier said than done given the former world no.1's extensive bag of tricks.

Then, it became apparent that He was struggling to move. Tai Tzu started to catch up and then just after the mid-game break, He called for the doctor.

The doctor quickly examined her and his verdict was that He might have a 'partial tear' that she risked aggravating if continued playing. But she nodded her head and smiled.

Just to make sure that she had understood him, the doctor double-checked, 'Are you sure?' She was. The crowd wasn't quite sure of what was happening but they soon rallied behind her even as Tai Tzu caught up and took the lead.

He stalled at 12 even as Tai Tzu sped forward to 18. The end seemed like a formality at this point.

But He summoned the brazen fighting spirit that makes her such a loved competitor. The Chinese sixth seed suddenly won seven points in a row to take a 19-18 lead. More drama. To do that against Tzi Tzu in the best of times is difficult, to do it when you are far from 100 percent was nothing short of astonishing.

The crowd was into this now. Living and breathing every little moment; every little movement. The shot that caught the line, a block that miraculously became a winner. Almost everyone seemed to be thinking the same thought: could He win the match?

But Tai Tzu had a match of her own to play and win. And in the end, she did what was needed to carve out the closest of wins. She sent the shuttle to the back of the court and watch He scramble desperately to try and get it. She couldn't.

Even as Tai Tzu shook hands with the service judge, He lay on the court... clutching her knee, crying. That is when the Chinese Taipei star made her way to the other side of the net and helped her opponent up.

Part of He's desperation could perhaps be explained by how close the battle to become China's second singles player at the Paris Olympics is. He and Han Yue lost their quarter-finals. With just one more tournament for both of them (likely to be the Asian Championships), it is likely to go right down to the wire. As things stand, He leads with 74,294 points to Han's 73,136.

The crowd wouldn't have cared about this though and even though He could barely walk on court, she got a standing ovation. It may not have been the wisest decision (if her injury gets worse, she might be forced out of the Paris race) but she had won their hearts. She had proved her fighting spirit is second to none; and that in turn tells you why there is so much more to sport than just the game itself.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
SHARE
Story Saved
Live Score
OPEN APP
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Friday, July 19, 2024
Start 14 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Follow Us On