What We Have Learned – Road To Tokyo

We are one month into the Tokyo 2020 Olympics qualifying period.

In that time, Korea have unearthed a new superstar, China have flexed their muscles on the world stage and Japan have vowed to work even harder in the next 12 months to ready themselves for a home Games.

Last week’s TOTAL BWF Sudirman Cup 2019 was an interesting insight into the current badminton landscape. Much hype has surrounded the Japanese team as they continue to build what many say is the golden era of Japanese badminton.

Their top seeding in Nanning and the fact they fielded their most potent line-up featuring singles and doubles players world-ranked no lower than No.3 is an indication of their prowess.

However, a surprise 3-0 defeat to China in the final – shocking for the nature of the performance rather than the result itself – has coach Park Joo Bong setting new targets for the squad.

“It is a comprehensive defeat for me. I cannot say our players played their best and I’m sorry about that. I commit myself to preparing better for the (Tokyo 2020) Olympic Games,” said Park post-tournament.

Perhaps it was the quirks of the team event that meant Japan was most vulnerable when it mattered most. Their wealth of riches in women’s doubles was not fully utilised with world champions Mayu Matsumoto/Wakana Nagahara not required in the final; plus the fact Kento Momota had played one more match and had one less day of recovery compared to Shi Yuqi.

Epic rivalry building between Momota and Shi.

 

Under individual circumstances, without the do-or-die pressure of keeping the tie alive, both singles could have easily gone the other way.

We will have to wait for the BLIBLI Indonesia Open 2019, DAIHATSU YONEX Japan Open 2019 and TOTAL BWF World Championships 2019 in July and August for the next true indication of where Japan stands.

One thing is for certain is that China have found two singles superstars in Chen Yufei and Shi Yuqi to lead them into Tokyo 2020.

The two youngsters join men’s doubles world champions Li Junhui/Liu Yuchen and mixed doubles world champions Zheng Siwei/Huang Yaqiong as certain medal contenders come July next year should they stay fit.

But with Shi proving his worth, China could have a selection dilemma as to who will take the other men’s singles slot alongside him – 2008 and 2012 Olympic champion Lin Dan and 2016 Olympic champion Chen Long. That could be interesting!

Another superstar on the rise is Korea’s An Se Young and her emergence in these first four weeks of Olympics qualifying has surely put her rivals on notice.

A year is a long time in sport, but there’s no doubting some of the more established women’s singles stars will keeping a close eye on both An and Chen.

With Carolina Marin out injured and Pusarla V. Sindhu not quite capturing the form that saw her be crowned HSBC BWF World Tour Finals champion last year, both the Korean and Chinese sensations have somewhat stolen the limelight and heightened their presence among the women’s elite.

They join an already impressive list featuring Tai Tzu Ying, Nozomi Okuhara, Akane Yamaguchi, He Bingjiao, Ratchanok Intanon and Saina Nehwal who have clear Olympic medal intentions.

What’s potentially scary for these ladies is that An and Chen are still learning and improving.

An defeated Beiwen Zhang, Aya Ohori and Li Xuerui in winning the BARFOOT & THOMPSON New Zealand Open 2019 in early May and then took the scalp of world No.1 Tai Tzu Ying at the Sudirman Cup in Nanning.

An was super impressive against Tai Tzu Ying.

 

Tai said of An after their match: “She’s tall, powerful, and has very good footwork. She’s good in all aspects of the game. She will be an outstanding player in future for sure.”

For Chen, it’s been a whirlwind start to 2019 with victories at the All England Open and Swiss Open to match her heroics against Yamaguchi in the final on Sunday. She’s hot favourite to take a third title of the year at the Australian Open next week.

“I have learned a lot here,” she said following the victory. “This is the first time I have been chosen as the team’s leading women’s singles player and to win my matches is an encouragement to me.”

So, watch out world! We’re in store for an even more exciting few months ahead in badminton.

Olympic and Paralympic News

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17 August 2020
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25 July 2020
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23 July 2020
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Refugee Athlete Mahmoud Resilient Despite Lockdown Blues

20 June 2020
Pandemic Spurs Pak to Pick Up Sixth Language

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31 May 2020
Marcus Ellis | Part II: Homing in on Success

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30 May 2020
‘The Break is Nice… But It’s a Little Too Long!’

‘The Break is Nice… But It’s a Little Too Long!’

2 May 2020
New Dates Announced for Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics

New Dates Announced for Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics

30 March 2020
BWF Responds to Tokyo 2020 Postponement

BWF Responds to Tokyo 2020 Postponement

25 March 2020
Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Postponed

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Postponed

24 March 2020
COVID-19 Leads to Suspension of Further Events

COVID-19 Leads to Suspension of Further Events

20 March 2020
IOC Issues Communique on Tokyo 2020

IOC Issues Communique on Tokyo 2020

18 March 2020
‘Scarred’ Momota Dreaming of Olympic Glory Again

‘Scarred’ Momota Dreaming of Olympic Glory Again

9 March 2020
Badminton Asia Championships Moved To Manila

Badminton Asia Championships Moved To Manila

4 March 2020
IOC President Confident of Successful Olympics

IOC President Confident of Successful Olympics

4 March 2020
Olympic Qualifier in Portugal Called Off

Olympic Qualifier in Portugal Called Off

2 March 2020
‘Big Teams Are Taking Us More Seriously’

‘Big Teams Are Taking Us More Seriously’

28 February 2020
BWF Statement on Postponement of Vietnam International Challenge

BWF Statement on Postponement of Vietnam International Challenge

25 February 2020
Countdown to Glory – Five Months to Go

Countdown to Glory – Five Months to Go

25 February 2020
‘She Thought I was Joking About Pairing Up’

‘She Thought I was Joking About Pairing Up’

19 February 2020
Bold Predictions for 2020

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15 February 2020
Sindhu’s New Strength is her Presence of Mind

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13 February 2020
Beyond the Numbers Game

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12 February 2020
Sabrina Jaquet: Seeking Rhythm

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11 February 2020
Ho-Shue: Primed for a Twin Challenge

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7 February 2020
Mahmoud Hangs On Despite Challenges

Mahmoud Hangs On Despite Challenges

3 February 2020
BWF Statement on Postponement of Lingshui China Masters

BWF Statement on Postponement of Lingshui China Masters

1 February 2020
Gicquel & Delrue: Rapid Ascent

Gicquel & Delrue: Rapid Ascent

30 January 2020
Thai Triumph Provides Fillip for Ellis & Smith in Olympic Year

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28 January 2020
A Leap Up for Thygesen & Fruergaard

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22 January 2020
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21 December 2019
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25 November 2019
Olympic Champ Carolina Marin Returns

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11 September 2019
Pan Am Champs Seek to Sharpen Skills

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5 September 2019
IOC President Fascinated with Badminton Finals

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29 August 2019
Miyuki Maeda Revels in New Role

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9 August 2019
Olympic Fever in Tokyo

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27 July 2019
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24 July 2019
Olympic Dreams Spur On Refugee Champ Mahmoud

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12 July 2019
Aram Mahmoud Receives IOC Refugee Athlete Scholarship

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21 June 2019
Michelle Li – Playing with Pain on Road to Tokyo

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11 June 2019
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6 June 2019
Timely Reward for Christie

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6 May 2019
‘Ygor’ for Success in Tokyo!

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30 April 2019
And They’re Off!

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29 April 2019
Fighting To Be Fit Again

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28 April 2019
Badminton Olympic Competition Schedule Announced

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16 April 2019
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16 April 2019
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10 April 2019
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8 April 2019
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5 April 2019
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2 April 2019
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23 March 2019
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23 March 2019
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22 March 2019
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22 March 2019