Glasgow medal big ask for NZ badminton team

IAN ANDERSON
Last updated 05:00 12/07/2014
Oliver Leydon-Davis
MARK TAYLOR
MAIN MAN: Oliver Leydon-Davis is one of the key faces in the NZ badminton team for the Commonwealth Games.

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A young New Zealand team would spring a shock should they feature in the medals in Glasgow.

The Kiwis were unable to gain a medal at the previous Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2010 and this year's team of eight would have to perform well above their current world rankings to break the stranglehold Malaysia have on the major medals in badminton.

England, India, Singapore and hosts Scotland will also prove tough foes to get past.

New Zealand's best hopes of pulling off an upset probably lie in the doubles disciplines. Oliver Leydon-Davis and men's doubles partner Kevin Dennerly-Minturn are ranked 50th in the world, while Leydon-Davis and sister Susannah are 53rd.

The singles and doubles competitions in Glasgow will consist of a straight knockout draw, whereas the mixed team event, which starts the 11 days of competition, will be contested over a range of preliminary rounds before entering a finals knockout format.

Several of the Kiwi team live and train overseas, enabling them to play regularly in semi-professional club leagues and on the Badminton World Federation tour.

The Kiwi team, which has a Commonwealth ranking of sixth, will be under the guidance of new national coach Svend Sorensen - the former Badminton NZ director of coaching and current National Centre Coach with Badminton Elite centre Aarhus in Denmark.

''He's a great guy and will be really valuable to have,'' Oliver Leydon-Davis said.

''We've been doing a bit of training with him over the past six months and he's mentally very good, and that's where it's going to count come Glasgow.''

The NZ team is: Joe Wu, Michael Fowke, Michelle Chan, Anna Rankin, Oliver Leydon-Davis, Susannah Leydon-Davis, Kevin Dennerly-Minturn, Madeleine Stapleton.

Best gold medal hope: None

Best outside medal chance: The men's doubles pairing of Oliver Leydon-Davis and Kevin Dennerly-Minturn.

Venue: Emirates Arena, Glasgow.

Schedule: July 24-August 3.

NZ medal history: New Zealand is yet to win a badminton gold medal - they have two silver and eight bronze medals since the sport was first contested at the Games in 1966.

Did you know? Half of the eight-strong team attended Hillcrest High School in Hamilton.

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- Waikato Times

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