Naraoka, An Se Young Lead Race to Paris

Kodai Naraoka, who has made the semifinals of four of his six individual events since May, leads the men’s singles standings in the Race to Paris Olympics qualifying lists.

The qualification period began on 1 May 2023 and will end 28 April 2024.

Naraoka, the world No.4, has a total of 47,595 points and is just ahead of YONEX All England champion Li Shi Feng in the Race to Paris rankings.

Reigning Olympic champion Viktor Axelsen, winner of all his three individual events in the qualifying period so far, has 43,315 points and is in third spot.

A National Olympic Committee (NOC) is allowed a maximum of two players in each singles category if both players are within the top 16 of the Race to Paris rankings as of 30 April 2024. In doubles, each NOC is allowed two pairs if both pairs are within the top 8 of the Race to Paris rankings.

An Se Young has had a great year.

There are thus going to be keen contests between players from the same NOC who are in sight of qualifying. Several of India’s men’s singles players, for instance, are expected to be locked in a tight race. HS Prannoy currently leads the Indians at No.5, but is ahead of Lakshya Sen by just over 1,000 points. Not too far behind is Kidambi Srikanth in 14th, while fast-rising youngsters such as Priyanshu Rajawat (No.34) and Mithun Manjunath (No.49) have had some good results lately and will fancy their chances.

In women’s singles, new No.1 An Se Young leads the Race to Paris rankings having won four of her five individual events in the qualifying period so far. An is followed by Akane Yamaguchi, Tai Tzu Ying, Ratchanok Intanon, He Bing Jiao and reigning Olympic champion Chen Yu Fei.

Other Chinese players who will look to challenge for spots are Wang Zhi Yi (No.12), Han Yue (No.14) and Zhang Yi Man (No.22).

Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty.

A reflection of the competitive nature of men’s doubles is that the top eight pairs are all from different NOCs – Takuro Hoki/Yugo Kobayashi (Japan), Liang Wei Keng/Wang Chang (China), Kang Min Hyuk/Seo Seung Jae (Korea), Aaron Chia/Soh Wooi Yik (Malaysia), Satwiksairaj Rankireddy/Chirag Shetty (India), Olympic champions Lee Yang/Wang Chi-Lin (Chinese Taipei), Kim Astrup/Anders Skaarup Rasmussen (Denmark) and Fajar Alfian/Muhammad Rian Ardianto (Indonesia).

Indonesia Open winners Baek Ha Na/Lee So Hee lead the Race to Paris in women’s doubles, with compatriots Kim So Yeong/Kong Hee Yong in third place. Japan and Thailand too have two pairs each in the top eight, while Zhang Shu Xian/Zheng Yu (No.11) and Li We Mei/Liu Xuan Xuan (No.20) are among the Chinese pairs behind Chen Qing Chen/Jia Yi Fan, who are at No.4.

Dechapol Puavaranukroh/Sapsiree Taerattanachai lead the mixed doubles rankings ahead of recent Japan Open champions Yuta Watanabe/Arisa Higashino.

Puavaranukroh and Taerattanachai stay ahead in mixed doubles.

China have at least three strong pairs in close contention – Feng Yan Zhe/Huang Dong Ping (No.3), Olympic silver medallists Zheng Si Wei/Huang Ya Qiong (No.4) and Jiang Zhen Bang/Wei Ya Xin (No.16).

Mathias Christiansen/Alexandra BØje are the top Europeans in the rankings at No.6, followed by compatriots Mathias Thyrri/Amalie Magelund (No.9), while European Games champions Robin Tabeling/Selena Piek are at No.13.

For details on Olympic qualifying, click here.

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