Thursday, May 5, 2016
TEXT BY DEV SUKUMAR | BADMINTONPHOTO
Badminton’s much-awaited world rankings following the end of the Rio Qualification Period on 1 May have been published.
Today’s (5 May 2016) Race to Rio rankings indicate the possible qualifiers for the Rio Olympics. However, the lists are provisional as several criteria have to be fulfilled, including the acceptance of National Olympic Committees (NOCs) of their quota places and allocation of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Tripartite Commission Invitation Places. The final list of qualifiers will be published immediately after the deadline of 18 July 2016.
The final surge to qualify for the Rio Olympics saw some dramatic moments at the continental championships of Asia, Europe and Oceania last week. While a few players managed to stake their claim for the Olympics thanks to inspired performances at the last qualifying event for Rio in their respective continents, some others would feel unlucky to have narrowly missed out.
A good example of the fortunes that changed within a week was Australia’s Ashwant Gobinathan, who claimed the Men’s Singles title at the 2016 Oceania Championships. Going in to the event, Gobinathan trailed compatriot Pit Seng Low, but the upset of the top seed in the quarter-finals enabled Gobinathan to rack up more ranking points and emerge as the top qualifier from Oceania.
In Asia, the pair that won hearts but lost out on a qualifying place was Naoko Fukuman/Kurumi Yonao. Japan’s No.2 pair won a 117-minute marathon quarter-final followed by a 161-minute epic semi-final at the Badminton Asia Championships. Despite surviving these ordeals, Fukuman and Yonao were required to win the final to qualify for Rio, but they were outplayed by compatriots Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi, leaving them ranked No.9 on the latest world ranking list. Two pairs from a country can qualify in doubles only if both are in the top eight.
Korea’s Lee Dong Keun scrambled into the top 16 thanks to the 5040 points he earned at the Badminton Asia Championships, thereby making him eligible for Rio alongside his countryman Son Wan Ho (ranked No.9).
In each singles event, the number of quota places is around 34; besides this, one place is reserved for the host NOC and three for Tripartite Commission Invitation Places. The 34 quota places include the continental representation places (each of the five continental confederations must be represented). An NOC is allowed a maximum of two players in each singles event if both players are ranked within the top 16.
There are no Tripartite Commission Invitation Places in doubles. Continental representation is subject to the pair being ranked within the top 50. Two pairs from an NOC can qualify only if both are ranked with the top eight (8).
China’s Chen Long leads the Men’s Singles qualifying list, ahead of close rival Lee Chong Wei (Malaysia) in No.2 and defending champion and compatriot Lin Dan at No.3.
Among the other qualifiers are Cuba’s Osleni Guerrero, Brazil’s Ygor Coelho de Oliveira, Canada’s Martin Giuffre and South Africa’s Jacob Maliekal.
In Women’s Singles, Australia’s Huan-Yu Wendy Chen confirmed her status as Oceania’s top player by winning the continental championships over compatriot Joy Lai and is in 37th place.
Thailand’s Porntip Buranaprasertsuk enjoyed a good run of form this year and that helped her just about get her toe in the door. The Thai finished the final qualifying week ranked 16th, and will earn the ticket as her country’s second Women’s Singles player behind Ratchanok Intanon. Other countries with two representatives each are China (Li Xuerui, Wang Yihan); Japan (Nozomi Okuhara and Akane Yamaguchi); Korea (Sung Ji Hyun and Bae Yeon Ju) and India (Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu).
Denmark’s Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen would heave a sigh of relief as they maintained a narrow lead over compatriots Mads Conrad-Petersen/Mads Pieler Kolding for No.8 in the rankings, making them the sole Danish Men’s Doubles pair in Rio.
Korea (Lee Yong Dae/Yoo Yeon Seong and Kim Gi Jung/Kim Sa Rang) and China (Fu Haifeng/Zhang Nan and Chai Biao/Hong Wei) are the only countries with two pairs each in the Men’s Doubles.
Australia’s Matthew Chau/Sawan Serasinghe and USA’s Phillip Chew/Sattawat Pongnairat have qualified from Oceania and Pan Am respectively; South Africa’s Andries Malan/Willem Viljoen would be disappointed as they fell short of their continental representation place by just 32 ranking points, finishing at No.51.
Korea’s Chang Ye Na and Lee So Hee were the beneficiaries of Matsutomo and Takahashi’s title win over their Japanese compatriots in the Badminton Asia Championships final. The Koreans finished at No.8, just ahead of Fukuman/Yonao, and will accompany fellow-Koreans Jung Kyung Eun/Shin Seung Chan to Rio. China also have two pairs: Yu Yang/Tang Yuanting and Tian Qing/Zhao Yunlei.
USA’s Eva Lee/Paula Lynn Obanana (featured image) are the sole pair to qualify from Pan Am; Egypt’s Nadine Ashraf/Menna Eltanany (Africa) narrowly missed out on continental qualification by finishing No.53 in the rankings.
Xu Chen/Ma Jin’s title win at the Bonny China Masters helped their Rio qualifying campaign and pitched them just ahead of compatriots Liu Cheng/Bao Yixin into the No.5 spot. Yonex All England champions Praveen Jordan/Debby Susanto surged into the top 8, helping them qualify as Indonesia’s second pair behind Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir.
USA’s Phillip Chew/Jamie Subandhi (Pan Am) and Australia’s Robin Middleton/Leanne Choo (Oceania) have also made the list. Egypt’s Abdelrahman Kashkal/Hadia Hosny were unlucky to miss out as the African representatives after they finished just outside the top 50.