Robertson and Emms denied gold in classic battle

Nathan Robertson produced another enormous post-match pogo here last night, just as he had in the moment of his and partner Gail Emms' semi-final victory over their Danish opponents. This time, however, the propelling force was frustration rather than elation after seeing the mixed doubles gold medal turn tantalisingly in front of his face before being re-claimed by China's top seeds and defending champions, Zhang Jun and Gao Ling, who won 15-1, 12-15, 15-12.

Nathan Robertson produced another enormous post-match pogo here last night, just as he had in the moment of his and partner Gail Emms' semi-final victory over their Danish opponents. This time, however, the propelling force was frustration rather than elation after seeing the mixed doubles gold medal turn tantalisingly in front of his face before being re-claimed by China's top seeds and defending champions, Zhang Jun and Gao Ling, who won 15-1, 12-15, 15-12.

Silver it was - and the distraught expression on Emms' face immediately afterwards said everything about the level of expectation the British pair's inspirational performances here had generated, most of all within them.

"I was absolutely gutted," the 27-year-old from Hitchin confessed. "I hate losing, and I wasn't even thinking about this as a gold medal match. I was just going out there to win. The quarter-final was great, the semi-final was fantastic, while the final... we did everything we could but it just didn't come off on the day."

The British pair were already assured of being their country's most successful performers in Olympic badminton thanks to the previous day's victory, which meant they were bound to surpass the mixed doubles bronze earned in Sydney four years ago by Joanne Wright-Goode and Simon Archer.

But there were several moments when it looked as if they were on the brink of earning a win against opponents who had taken just 13 minutes to take the opening game.

"I think we have come here and given the performances of our lifetime," said Robertson, whose long hair, headband and sharp features give him a startling resemblance to Stuart from the most recent Channel 4 Big Brother. "That was the intention, and our reward for it is a silver medal, which we both dreamed about since we were little."

It was a match frequently interrupted by disputes, most of them set in motion by the chunky and highly emotional figure of Zhang, who was lustily booed by the large Union Jack-waving contingent doing everything they could to provide support. Zhang, who had complained to the umpire about the condition of the shuttle and then questioned a line call, admitted he had felt the pressure until Gao calmed him down. "She told me, 'Don't be too nervous, because we won the title four years ago so our opponents must feel even more pressure than we do'," he said.

"There's always lots of needle between Asian and European teams," said Robertson, who comes from Nottingham but now lives and plays in Copenhagen. "There's definitely not a lot of friendship between them. But credit to the Chinese - they played incredibly. Maybe there was a little bit of final nerves but they came out absolutely faster than us and blew us off court really. Sometimes it takes a game to get used to the pace of the Chinese. But I'm proud, extremely proud, of the way we held on after losing that first game."

The British pair played for nine minutes before they registered their single point of the opening game at 9-0 down. As the points against them racked up they appeared momentarily to be inhabiting a particularly cruel nightmare. But the second game saw them regain first their equilibrium, and then the initiative as their opponents, and most notably the volatile Zhang, who nurtures the hurt rage of a McEnroe, began to make errors.

Robertson, whose six-year-old daughter, Neve, was once again in the crowd, had predicted he would be relaxed beforehand, and he was ultimately able to live up to his words. "My realistic aim was a bronze coming here, because I didn't honestly believe that we would reach the final," he had said. "Tomorrow we can just go out and play, knowing that we've got a silver in the bag which is more than we wanted.'

In the end, truthfully, it wasn't less than they deserved, even after they had got to within four points of victory at 11-8 in the third game. Although they saved two match points, the Chinese top seeds were not to be denied.

Emms seemed to freeze at the start, raising fears that she was suffering from the Achilles tendon injury she had sustained in their quarter-final. But as the match went on, her assurance and mobility returned. "There was no question of it preventing me from playing or causing problems with my performance," she said. "This is the Olympic final and it has been my dream to get here."

While the Chinese were satisfied with a gold that moves them closer to the target they are seeking in the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Games, Robertson, who is the same age as his partner, was also looking four years ahead. "We're still young enough to come back and win it," he said with a glint in his eye.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
film
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
News
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers