Who needs fiction. Canada's Alex Bruce and Michele Li never betrayed that their Olympic ride was extended by their opponents throwing matches — and now the women's badminton partners are guaranteed to play for a medal at London 2012.
Team Bruce Li (please make that catch on), one-time Ontario University Athletics rivals who have respectively honed their games with the Western Mustangs and Toronto Varsity Blues, went from seemingly eliminated to euphoric in a span of a few hours. They won a marathon quarter-final over Australia's Leanne Choo and Renuga Veeran, who were unbeaten in preliminary play, prevailing 21-9, 18-21, 21-18 in a 54-minute match they were only in thanks to the chain reaction of tank jobs on Tuesday night. Two of the teams they lost to, world champions Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang of China, who were accused of starting it and South Korea's Kim Ha-na and Jung Kyun-eun, were disqualified.
To their credit, the 22-year-old Bruce and 20-year-old Li were able to control their euphoria on Wednesday as the possibility emerged they could knock off Choo and Veeran. They led throughout the decisive set, clinching the match on an Australian service error. They'll face Japan in the semifinal.
Advancing to the medal round via a disqualification is actually just the latest twist of fate for Team Bruce Li, which won the gold medal last fall at the Pan Am Games. Just before the Olympics, the pair also came down with a stomach virus, which threw off their training.
Suffice to say, their Olympics has been more eventful than they likely expected. Winning means they a more than a small footnote to an Olympic scandal; the victory makes the story even better. Who knows what the discipline levied against China and Korea did to the Australian team, which probably faced uncertainty about whom it was going to play. Team Bruce Li, which had posted an 0-3 prelim record prior to the forfeits, played like it had nothing to lose.
The tanking really has to be seen to believed. You would have a hard time finding a poorer effort in a Canadian high school gym class.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.