BY CHRIS MCNULTY
So near and yet so far.
Raphoe’s Chloe Magee has bowed out of the Olympic Games – but with her head held high.
The 23-year old pushed former world number two, French player Pi Hongyan, all the way to three sets, but the experience of Hongyan proved telling in the end as Magee’s Olympic dream was heartbreakingly quashed. Hongyan advances to the last 16 thanks to a 16-21, 21-18, 21-14 win over the Donegal star.
Magee can be proud of her efforts, as she played superbly to win the first set 21-18. The players were neck-and-neck through the gripping opening set, but it was Magee who finished brilliantly, playing the short game to near perfection at the end of it to score a 21-18 win and put her in prime position.
Magee pressed Hongyan in the second set, but ultimately the French woman had a little too much in the tank to score a 21-18 win and force the winner-takes-all third installment.
Hongyan’s vast experience at the top level – she has been in the quarter-finals of the last six World Championships – told as she began to force Magee into some errors that proved so crucial. Chipping away at the deficit Magee couldn’t quite get close enough to take the second set win that would have fired her into the knockout phase.
At the changeover in the tense third set, Magee was just one down (11-10) after claiming six points in a row to lead for a brief period. And after the switchover it was Hongyan who stole the show to claim a 21-14 win that shoots her into the last 16.
On Sunday Magee scored a straight sets win over Egyptian Hadia Hosny in her opening match, Magee comfortably saw off Hosny 21-17, 21-6 to catapult herself into the frame for qualification.
Four years ago, Magee announced her arrival on the Olympic stage in Beijing by stunning Estonian Kati Tolmoff – at the time ranked 28 places above her – in the first round. That win saw her become the first Irish badminton player to win a game in the Olympic Games.
Although beaten today, Magee will deserve another ‘welcome home’ to Raphoe when she returns having come within inches of qualifying for the next stage of the Olympic Games.
CHLOE Magee was defeated in straight sets by World number two Wang Yihan in her Olympic opener this afternoon.