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Australian badminton team to Olympic Games ready for tough competition inBeijing
09:15, August 07, 2008

As Olympic debutants, Australia's badminton team members know they are up against tough competition in Beijing but they are young and keen and there to learn.

Doubles player Tania Luiz, 24, said the players are being realistic about their medal chances and are using the upcoming Olympics as something of a test run.

"We're all very much just looking forward to getting the experience than anything else," says Luiz, who will compete in the women's doubles in Beijing.

"Realistically speaking we're not medal contenders, but every single one of us has our own personal goals that we want to try and reach at these Olympics," Luiz of Melbourne, told Xinhua before departing for the Beijing Olympics.

"We're fielding quite a young team still, and I think a lot of us still have another Olympics in us, and that's where we're put higher expectations," she said.

She expected that the Asian countries, particularly China, will dominate the medal tally.

"China will be up to get the five golds, especially because it's a home Olympics. Indonesia is very, very good at the moment, they've caused a lot of disruption in China's preparations, and Malaysia have very strong singles players."

"The Asian teams, they'll still definitely dominate. It'd be a really good result for a non-Asian team to get a medal at the games, with the way things have gone in the past year," Luiz said.

Like all but one of the badminton players selected to represent Australia, Luiz's doubles partner Eugenia Tanaka, 21, lives in Melbourne. Women's singles player Erin Carroll, 22, lives in Ballarat.

The other players are men's singles player Stuart Gomez, 25, and the doubles players Ross Smith, 23, and Glenn Warfe, 24.

Luiz said that while the players are aware the conditions in Beijing will be quite different from where they've been training, preparation for the Games has been more mental than physical.

The players were also to take the rare opportunity to raise the profile of the sport in a country where football codes and cricket dominate media attention.

"It's one of the few times we're able to get a little bit of publicity for the sport, and, more than anything, getting people to come and play it is pretty important," Luiz said.

"A lot of people have a mindset of 'backyard' badminton here in Australia, so it's definitely something we do try to leverage off with an event like the Olympics," she added.


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