Defeated Hall fancies Olympic chances

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Darren Hall toppled out of the All-England Championships at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham yesterday and then backed himself to capture Britain's first Olympic badminton medal.

The England No 1 from Chingford, Essex, brushed aside his second-round defeat by Indonesia's world champion, Heryanto Arbi, as he looked ahead to Atlanta.

"I really believe I can get a medal," said the former European champion. "I'm playing better now than I have done for two years."

Hall was seeded 15 at the All-England and believes he may squeeze into the Olympic seedings. "There are six Indonesians above me in the world rankings and only three of them can go to the Olympics. I have justified my seeding here, I don't see how I can drop down the list and I must have a chance of being seeded in Atlanta."

He looked nervous at the start, showed Arbi too much respect, and could not hope to recover from a 3-8 deficit. In the second game, Hall trailed 6-10 before producing his best spell to narrow the gap to 10-13. But then Arbi simply upped the tempo to polish him off.

Hall, beaten 15-10, 15-10 by Arbi, will probably line up for Britain in Atlanta alongside Kent's Peter Knowles, who withdrew from a first-round meeting with the ninth seed Fung Permadi yesterday through injury and then refused a medical check from the tournament doctor.

"The qualifying system definitely needs changing," added Hall, who has re-launched his career after recovering from back trouble.