Badminton: England stave off threat of drop

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The Independent Online
CIRO CINIGLIO, who almost resigned as England's manager after the row which split the famous Gill Clark/Gillian Gowers partnership, changed his mind to watch the home country produce a sensational recovery from 0-2 down to beat the European champions Sweden 3-2 and unexpectedly avoid relegation from the top group of the World Championships at the National Indoor Arena here yesterday.

Ciniglio also dramatically changed his team - and the pair which had only played together once before in tournaments, Chris Hunt and Nick Ponting, won 18-13, 15-7 in the deciding contest against Par-Gunnar Jonsson and Peter Axelsson, who together clinched the Swedes the European title last year.

'Some of the players doubted I had picked the right team. But I had to put in some fresh legs, ' said Ciniglio. He added: 'Some friends persuaded me not to resign - and I'm glad they did.'

The astounding comeback began when, with England already two down, Jo Muggeridge lost the first game of the women's singles 11-0 against Christine Magnusson and was 2-0 down in the second. An inspired spell of attacking with fast flat clears and brilliantly disguised round-the-head smashes helped her to 0-11, 11-7, 11-4 victory, and then Clark, playing with her new partner, the 20-year-old Joanne Wright, produced another startling recovery.

They were a game down, 8-13 down in the second and 5-10 down in the third before winning 11-15, 18-14, 18-16 against Maria and Catrine Bengtsson. 'I was not surprised by the selection,' Clark said. 'I was told by the selectors they wanted me to change partners and I don't argue with selectors'.

Later, Indonesia went through to today's final with holders South Korea, beating China 3-2, despite a defeat for their All England champion Heryanto Arbi in straight games to the former World Cup winner Wu Wenkai.

Results, Sport in Short, page 27