Surrey shuttler Toby Penty knows he will turn from hunted to the hunter ahead of his quarter-final in the badminton men’s singles at the Commonwealth Games.
Penty beat Scotland’s Callum Smith 2-0 (25-23, 21-12) in a first-ever meeting between the British pair, and now faces India’s Srikanth Kidambi in the last eight.
The 29-year-old struggled through the first game, saving four game points from Smith, 20, before looking more relaxed as he sealed the win in the second.
And Penty admitted he struggled at times, but was relieved to make it through against an opponent with plenty of unknowns.
“I think I was quite lucky to get through that first set but it was the big difference,” said Penty.
“If I’d had lost that first set, it’s quite a long way [back]. To get that first set over the line was big.
“It helped relax me and maybe took away a bit of his belief and confidence.
“It was a bit of a nervy one, always something a bit different about playing someone from the home countries.
“I just don’t think I ever got going, it was a bit of a struggle today, I woke up feeling a little bit heavier in my legs and I just couldn’t get going the way I wanted to in the first set.”
This summer, Team England, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, comprises of over 400 athletes, all vying for medal success.
Penty was greeted by a mighty roar by the crowd at the NEC in Birmingham, but it was Smith who looked more at home despite little sympathy for the Scot from the spectators.
Yet Penty showed all this experience and cunning to doggedly stay in the first set against a youngster who he believes has a big future.
“It’s easier for the younger guys coming through because I’m there to be targeted,” added Penty.
“I didn’t know that much about him coming in, but I certainly do now so he’s someone to definitely look out for in the future.
“Tomorrow I’m the one who gets to do the chasing.”
If there were any nerves from Penty in front of such a big audience, they had dissipated by the second game.
The Chertsey-born athlete looked to be enjoying himself out on court, joking with fans over his towel, after the umpire repeatedly reminded him to place it fully inside his box.
“I always get told off for it,” joked Penty. “Every time I play a tournament it’s not in the box.
“When you’re in the zone, the last thing you’re thinking about is how perfectly placed your towel is but obviously the umpires are.
“I think it helped relax me in the second set. It just helped chill me out a little bit.
“You want people to leave with a smile on their face, they want to have a good time, I want to have a good time.
“If I can bring that across and be a little bit cheeky, then why not?
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