Walker wins bronze after epic European Juniors badminton semi final

Rhys Walker, who takes a well deserved bronze medal away from the European Junior Championships in Turkey

Rhys Walker's mission to be the just the fourth Englishman in 36 years to lift the Mens Singles crown at the European Junior Championships was eventually halted at the Semi Final stage today but it wasn't without drama. The Center Parcs – supported Team England young gun from Warwickshire, who yesterday impressively upset the seedings by knocking out second seed Adam Mendrek, was denied 22-20, 21-19 in a gripping last 4 clash with Holland's Mark Caljouw.

The Dutchman has already faced Walker out in Turkey this week – enjoying a 21-18, 21-18 win over his English rival in Holland's 3-1 team competition win over Team England – however this time around, Walker held game points and had big chances to claim victory. In fact, when Walker held two game points at 20-18 up in the first end having established a 16-10 lead, it seemed a real possibility that he could add his name to those of Andy Goode (1977), Matthew Smith (1985) and, more latterly, Rajiv Ouseph on the winners list.

However his Dutch rival showed real resilience to fight back, saving two game points before taking the first end 22-20 on his first opportunity. After dominating the first end in which the Dutchman only led at 9-8 and then 22-20, Walker still shook off the disappointment with some clever matchplay, winning five critical back-to-back points to edge clear at 15-13 in a tight second end. But that gap only inspired Caljouw to repeat the feat, taking 5 consecutive points of his own – and whilst Walker closed the gap to within two, it was a burst that eventually led the Dutch rising star to victory at 21-19.

Caljouw will now face Germany's Fabian Roth, who defeated top seed Matthias Almer from Austria in today's other semi final, for the Mens Singles title.

For Walker, who takes a well deserved bronze medal away from the European Junior Championships in Turkey, his performances on court this week will give a firm platform for domestic matters over the coming weeks when the U19 English National Badminton Championships take place at the National Badminton Centre in Milton Keynes.

Source: Badminton England

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