Badminton: Brave Butler gives his all to triumph

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The Independent Online
STEVE BUTLER had to be carried off with exhaustion and dehydration after saving a match point against China's Liu Jun and producing the best All-England performance of his career to reach the last 16 at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham yesterday, writes James Leigh. In his last tournament in this country before retirement, Butler won 5-8, 6-15, 17-16 against the player who qualified for the Barcelona Olympics by winning the 1992 All-England title.

Butler needed seven match points to succeed in a contest of 79 minutes. This followed a hard match earlier in the day when he beat Finland's Robert Liljequist, 15-9, 15-11.

Butler's lead of 8-3 at the change of ends in the third game against Lui Jun evaporated to an 8-9 deficit, but sheer courage kept him going when he was almost exhausted.

It also helped him over the disappointment of failing to clinch six match points, and through a reflex jabbing rally on Lui Jun's match point at 16-16. Butler won by luring the former champion into a round- the-head drop shot wide and within minutes was vomiting and buckled up with pain on the floor.

'I hope he set an example to other Englishmen - one or two could learn from him,' said the England manager, Ciro Ciniglio, mindful of the fact that 10 other English men singles players could not win a match between them. Today Butler plays the Commonwealth champion Rashid Sidek.