US badminton Olympians training in the Bay Area

(KTSF by Kwokshu Leung)

Among the three badminton Olympians representing the US in the London Olympics, the bigger name is Tony Gunawan. He won a gold medal in men’s double’s back at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

He sets his eyes on the medal stand. “We do hope we go at least to the quarter, then out from the pool and go further. Then hopefully we can go to semi. Again, we are shooting for any medal, semi hopefully.

Gunawan’s partner is three time Olympian Howard Bach who says game rules have changed for this upcoming Olympics. Two of the best teams out of a division of four will go forward. Team USA may take the advantage of more games since they lack sparring partners in domestic training. In international tournaments they may warm up slower.

But once the veteran team gets the right chemistry, they tend to play well onwards, according to Bach.

For the 20-year-old, first-time Olympian Rena Wang, her goal is to get into the round of 16 in women’s single’s, which is history making if she eventually makes it. “I feel a little pressure now that the days are counting down but yes I am so excited to make it so far. So I do my best to prepare and do well.

Because of the lack of sparring partners in the country, USA badminton flew in a British player to train with Gunawan and Bach. Two weeks from now they will have further training in Malaysia.

US badminton head coach Ben Lee: “As far as bringing players here, it’s not normal practice, but because of the expectations and the excitement of the games this year, we are willing to take the extra step necessary to get the job done.”

Lee said his goal is to have the players advance as far as possible, one game at a time.

(Copyright 2012 KTSF. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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