Badminton: Petr Koukal overcomes cancer to compete at London 2012


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The Independent Online

Petr Koukal may not have won any matches at London 2012 but the Olympics have allowed him to celebrate his life's greatest victory.

The Czech feared he might not even live to 2012, let alone compete in the Olympics, after being diagnosed with testicular cancer two years ago.

But the 26-year-old not only beat the disease but has fought his way back to 78 in the world rankings and fulfilled a dream when he first stepped on court at Wembley Arena on Saturday.

Koukal said: "The London Olympics have been a target for me since I was diagnosed.

"One-and-a-half years ago I wasn't sure if I would be alive, so this is a victory for me to be here."

Koukal was given the honour of carrying his nation's flag at the opening ceremony on Friday and then opened his Olympic challenge with defeat to former champion Taufik Hidayat.

He then captivated the crowd in his second group match, an epic against Spain's Pablo Abian which he eventually lost 21-17 16-21 21-16 late on Sunday night.

In emotional scenes, he soaked up the applause from the crowd and knelt to kiss the court.

Koukal said: "It was some kind of saying thanks to the Olympics and sport.

"This is the end of one story and I believe there will be another one in 2016, more happy and with a better result at the end.

"I am 26 and I believe I can still go for the next four years, to Rio.

"I was very disappointed with my first match but at least I got a good match and I will remember the 2012 Olympics as my comeback.

"It has been one of the most important moments in my life."