Badminton

Published: Saturday August 30, 2014 MYT 10:41:00 PM
Updated: Monday September 1, 2014 MYT 4:51:06 PM

Minatsu on her way up in badminton

Japanese singles shuttler Minatsu Mitani lost in the semi-finals of the badminton World Championships in Denmark on Saturday to China's Li Xuerui. - AFP

Japanese singles shuttler Minatsu Mitani lost in the semi-finals of the badminton World Championships in Denmark on Saturday to China's Li Xuerui. - AFP

COPENHAGEN: Pretty Minatsu Mitani may have bowed out in the women’s singles semi-finals of the World Championships but it could just be the start of a beautiful journey for the petite Japanese shuttler.

Although the 22-year-old Mitani lost 8-21, 14-21 to top seed Li Xuerui of China in just 31 minutes on Saturday, at least she can walk with her head held high.

En route to her first semi-finals, the pocket dynamo had seen off the challenges of defending champion Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand and South Korean No. 1 Sung Ji-hyun in superb style.

She is only the second women’s singles player from Japan to win a bronze medal in the world meet following Hiroe Yuki’s effort in the first edition in 1977 – 37 years ago.

Mitani made heads turn after beating India’s Saina Nehwal to win the 2012 French Open title before disappearing from the radar.

This time, she is bent on being a permanent fixture in the world circuit – promising to give top players from China, South Korea and Thailand a run for their money.

“I struggled for a while but my semi-final breakthrough has given me the confidence that I need.

“It is a big achievement for me,” said a happy Mitani.

“My goal is to win a medal at the 2016 Olympic Games (in Rio de Janeiro).”

Meanwhile, Spain’s 21-year-old left-hander Carolina Marin also did well to reach the semi-finals.

The Spaniard, who is the first from her nation to be assured of at least a medal in the world meet, takes on India’s P.V. Sindhu for a place in the final.

Tags / Keywords: Minatsu Mitani, badminton, Badminto World Championships, Copenhagen, Li Xuerui, Ratchanok Intanon, Carolina Marin

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