15.08.16: Ouseph draws inspiration from teammates to reach last eight
Rajiv Ouseph believes anything is possible after becoming the first British man to reach the last eight of the Olympic badminton men’s singles in Rio.
Ouseph had never beaten Indonesia’s Tommy Sugiarto in their five previous encounters but kept his nerve to progress 21-13, 14-21, 21-16.
It completed a historic day for British badminton, with Chris Langridge and Marcus Ellis earlier reaching the men’s double semi-finals, to guarantee themselves a shot at a medal.
“That was very tense but I knew it could be my last match so I just gave it everything,” said Ouseph.
“I’ve played him a few times and never won but I’ve won the important one now. I didn’t have any fear, the way the draw worked out this was probably my best chance.
“Winning that first game settled the nerves and calmed me down, but I dropped my level a bit in the second game. I’m really proud with how I came back there to close it out.
“As I get older I learn more about myself and I know to play to my strengths.”
Ouseph will now play Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen, the European champion and world bronze medallist, for a place in the semi-finals.
“It’s the quarter-finals of the Olympics so a pressure situation for both of us but I’ll give it my best shot,” he added.
“I’ve beaten him once but I’ve lost quite a few as well but all those matches don’t mean anything now.”
Ouseph also claimed he’d been inspired by watching Langridge and Ellis win earlier in the day - even if he did have to creep into the venue to watch.
“The coaches told me not to watch them because it would be too nerve-wracking but I sneaked in to watch the second set,” he added.
“It’s been a great atmosphere in our flat in the village and hopefully we can spur each other on. It’s been a while since a singles players has gone this far, so hopefully I can raise the profile a bit because our success has normally been in doubles.”
See all the stars of Rio in Birmingham next March! Tickets for the YONEX All England Open Badminton Championships 2017 at the Barclaycard Arena are now on general sale.