By Josh Graham at the NEC, Birmingham
Toby Penty was relieved to put his badminton bronze heartbreak behind him and kickstart the men’s singles with a win at the Commonwealth Games.
Penty rushed to a 21-11 21-7 victory over Australia’s Nathan Tang to set up a last 16 clash against Scotland’s Callum Smith on Friday.
The 29-year-old from Walton-on-Thames had agonisingly missed out on a medal as part of the mixed team on Tuesday as England went down 3-0 to Singapore.
He said: “It was an OK performance, I started a little bit nervously but once I got going I found my rhythm.
“Both sides of the court were playing a little bit differently, so it took me some time to settle but once I did, I think I did a good job today.
“It’s a little bit different [in the singles]. I’m used to having the guys next to me but it’s exciting to start something new and I’m ready to go in the individual.
“There is a little bit of pressure when you don’t know the opponent that well and what they are going to do.
“They can play freely and that can be tricky but I’ve been doing this long enough to hopefully be able to deal with that in the match.
“It was really good to have a day off yesterday [after missing out on bronze in mixed team].
“The last few days some of the matches I’ve played have been quite mentally and emotionally draining, not just physically.”
Penty gave the crowd at the NEC’s show court plenty to cheer on Thursday morning with a professional display and admitted he is relishing the barmy Birmingham atmosphere.
He added: “The crowd are great. All week they’ve been so good there’s nothing that really comes close.
“This is quickly becoming my favourite place to play and I’m really enjoying the vibes and the atmosphere out there.”
Penty has been in fine personal touch this week, only narrowly coming out on the wrong side of an absolute epic in his singles rubber in the bronze medal match.
He lost 2-1 (25-23, 11-21, 23-25) to world champion Kean Yew Loh and also suffered with cramp but is dialling into all of his experience and good form to hopefully progress deep into the men’s singles draw.
Penty said: “I am taking confidence from the last four or five matches in general. I think I’ve only played a couple of poor sets.
“The rest have been really good so I’m just going to roll like that day by day and as the matches get tougher hopefully I can rely on those games I’ve had.”
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