Canada's Bruce, Li finish 4th in badminton
Canada's Alex Bruce and Michelle Li capped their unlikely run to the medal round by finishing fourth in badminton women's doubles at the London Olympics.
"Definitely disappointing today we didn't play our best. We didn't have it today," Bruce said. "We did as much as we could with the chance we were given and we didn't give up so I'm happy with our efforts overall."
The Toronto players were beaten 21-9, 21-10 by Russians Valeria Sorokina and Nina Vislova in Saturday's bronze-medal match, ending their part in one of the most scandalous stories of the Games.
Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei of China won the women's doubles gold medal after defeating Mizuki Fujii and Reika Kakiiwa of Japan 21-10, 25-23 on their fourth match point.
The Canadians made history by being in the medal round as no Canadian has ever won an Olympic badminton medal or even made the semifinals.
The 22-year-old Bruce and 20-year-old Li — "Bruce Li" as the duo has come to be known at the Games — thought their Olympics were over earlier this week. They were eliminated after finishing last in their pool losing by a combined score of 126-52.
"This whole tournament has been a roller coaster for me," Li said. "We had really hard draws and lost our games which was a low, but then we had an opportunity again and we took advantage of it so that was such a high. We fought for every point but just didn't have it today."
But in an Olympic re-write neither could have seen coming, they were reinstated a day later when four teams were expelled for purposefully losing their matches.
That breathed new life into the Canadians who cruised by an Australian pair in the semis — their only victory over these Games. They gave the No. 4 seeded Japanese team a good game before eventually falling in three sets in the semis, setting up the bronze medal match.
The Russians took a similar path to the medal round, reinstated after originally being eliminated. They had beaten the Canadians 21-8, 21-10 in the preliminary round.
Eight players from China, South Korea and Indonesia were expelled, including world champions Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang, in what's become one of the biggest stories of these Games.
The young players have become two of Canada's darlings of these Games — relatively unknown athletes who only a couple of years ago were battling each other in Ontario university competition, Bruce for University of Western Ontario, Li for the Toronto Varsity Blues.
They've taken the past two years off from their studies to focus on London. Bruce was a civil engineering student, Li was working toward a degree in life sciences hoping to one day become a doctor.
The two won the Pan American Games doubles title last fall in Mexico. Li also won the Pan Am singles gold.