Rio sees the Full Evans

by Karl Graham
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SCOTT EVANS’ Olympic journey came to an end after defeat to Denmark’s world number four Viktor Axelsen, as he left it all on the court – including his shirt.
The Dundrum man made history at the Games by becoming the first Irishman to win a badminton match at the Olympics after his impressive victory over German 12th seed Marc Zwiebler, before overcoming a raucous hometown crowd to beat Brazilian Ygor Coelho de Oliveira.
Speaking after the defeat, Evans said how much he has enjoyed his experiences in Rio.
“I’m proud of what I’ve done this week. I’ve overcome many things that I’d doubted before whether I could do or not.
“There have been so many great moments it is hard to pick one. Beating Marc Zwiebler, then two days ago overcoming the most insane crowd I’ve ever played in front of. Then I’m up against one of the best players in the world.”
Evans left Wesley College at just 16 to move to the badminton capital of Europe, Copenhagen, in pursuit of his dreams with a professional structure not present for the game in Ireland.
He had to work hard to overcome the homesickness that inevitably comes when someone so young is forced to live alone in a culture far removed from the one they grew up in.
Evans’ highest ranking was 23 but when he began to run out of his funding for tournaments around August each year, he was forced to miss tournaments, plummeting his ranking to 70 and resulting in him paying his own way in order to complete qualification for Rio.
Once there, the 28-year-old Evans became synonymous in Rio for removing his shirt, Ronaldo-style, in celebration and repeated the action after his defeat to Axelsen, in recognition of the support he received from Irish fans at the Games.
The great Dane, who ended up winning the bronze medal, proved too strong for Evans, running out winner in straight sets 21-16, 21-12
“I didn’t feel as good [against Axelsen] physically as I have been.
“My lungs just didn’t feel like they were there today and that caused me to go after my shots a little bit more instead of being more patient,” said Evans.
“That cost me hugely. I made more mistakes today than I did in the previous two days.
I don’t think it was fatigue, I think emotions played a big part in it. Mentally, I was a little bit tired.
“He’s one of the guys I said has a great chance for a medal before the tournament so I knew it would be very hard.”

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