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Fun-loving Cordon puts Guatemalan badminton on map with upset win

·2-min read

Guatemalan badminton player Kevin Cordon left home at 12 to pursue his Olympic dream -- on Wednesday he was just "having fun" as he eliminated eighth seed Angus Ng Ka-long.

World number 59 Cordon, appearing in his fourth Olympics, beat world number nine Ng 22-20, 21-13 in Tokyo, booking his place in the knockout round.

The 34-year-old celebrated every point with a skyward roar and collapsed on the court when his fierce smash sealed the win.

But he insisted he wasn't thinking about the score until he was two points away from victory, and played without worries "like when you play Nintendo".

"I've realised that if you don't have fun when you play, you cannot win the points and win the matches," said Cordon.

"I didn't think about winning or losing, or that I was close to winning the match. I was just playing, having fun, point by fun."

Cordon grew up playing football like most kids in Guatemala, but took up badminton and was offered a scholarship in the capital, Guatemala City.

He decided to take it with the aim of one day reaching the Olympics, and he now represents the Central American nation with pride.

"Of course, it's not like training here in Asia," he said.

"Badminton in Guatemala is not like football. But I didn't think about that. I was like, OK, I qualified for the Olympics, I will train hard and do my best in every point in every match."

That was evident in Wednesday's win over Ng, as Cordon raced around the court and took the game to his overwhelmed opponent.

Cordon's football-mad father named him after former England striker Kevin Keegan, and the shuttler brings the same relentless energy to the court.

"In the beginning, I wanted to be a football player, and then badminton just came into my life," he said.

"I had a chance to be in the Olympics, and also an opportunity to help my family."

Cordon's win over Ng sent him into the knockout round, and a win over his next opponent would see him reach the Olympic quarter-finals for the first time in four attempts.

"The reason I chose to train or play badminton was because of the Olympic Games," he said.

"I had my dream in Beijing, and now my fourth is still the same dream. I'm enjoying it more than before."

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