When the Olympic Games began on the 23rd, nobody would have guessed that Kevin Cordon from Guatemala would be competing in the semi-finals in the men’s singles event.

The 34-year old southpaw who is ranked only 59th in the world beat Ng Ka Long Angus (HKG) in the group stage to qualify for the knockout stage. He then beat Mark Caljouw (NED) in the round of 16. And today, he beat Heo Kwang Hee (KOR), the player who knocked out Kento Momota from the Olympics. All of whom are far superiorly ranked than him in the world rankings.

Cordon beat the South Korean youngster Heo in two straight games 21-13, 21-18 in today’s quarter-final match.

Cordon reached the last 32 in Beijing 2008, last 16 in London 2012 and played only the group stage in Rio 2016.

Kevin Cordon celebrates in tears after winning against Heo Kwang Hee

With today’s win, in his fourth appearance, he has become the first-ever player from Guatemala to reach a semi-final in badminton at the Olympics.

Two days back, he was quoted as saying by BWF, “I’m just having fun. It’s an honour to play all these good players, who we only watch on the internet. And when you have a chance to play them it feels really nice.

“It’s not easy for us, because it’s not easy to get money to travel. I know there are more important things in Guatemala, like the poor people need to eat. It’s not like the game is everything. I came from a small town and badminton changed my life. What I’m doing in badminton is also helping my family, with the money I get from my federation. It helps support them.

“It is difficult to train. My friends help me. Most of my training is three versus one. I’ve been practising hard. After all these years I realised that if you compare Guatemala to other countries in Asia or Europe, the difference is huge. But we have one thing, that is to play with heart.”

Kevin Cordon will meet the winner of the match between Shi Yu Qi (CHN) and Viktor Axelsen (DEN) in the semi-final.

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