2012 Olympic Preview – Peter Gade

On July 3, 2012, in Olympics, by Eddie Smith

In about a months time, the career of Peter Gade will end on the Olympic stage in London. Gone are the days of a spikey blonde haired man oozing with arrogance claiming the world number 1 spot at just 21, replaced with a 35-year old man with all the deceptive skills that the Dane claimed title after title with in the early parts of the 2000′s, but missing that explosion and a body slowly betraying him.

His legacy has shaped European badminton, an ambassador both on and off the court as well as a role model to countless players of this generation. His technique is idolized in his home nation, where he has claimed his national title on no less than 10 occasions. A European champion on five different occasions as well as an All-England Champion in 1999 but like Lee Chong Wei, there is a lack of a World or Olympic gold medal in his career, only a World Championship silver in 2001 in Seville.

2012 has seen a significant drop off in his results, something that Gade himself has admitted that he was struggling with an ankle injury and trying to find an extra 10-15% to push him back to the top of the game. He has played just 16 matches in the past few months, losing 7 of those 16. Losses to Shon Wan Ho, Du Pengyu, Lee Hyun Il and most noticeably Henri Hurskainen at the European Championships has fueled the belief that there is nothing left in the tank.

Is Gade Europe’s Best Chance?

Even with all of his recent losses, he is still Europe’s top ranked player. The likes of Jorgensen, Zwiebler and Ouseph simply don’t have the experience of a Gade at this level. Dispite his recent poor run of form, Gade is still competitive. His losses to Kuncoro and Lee Hyun Il were in three games and his loss in the All England was one of the most farcical moments in recent badminton history after being put on court at 1am due to a scheduling disaster.

Can He Beat Lin Dan or Lee Chong Wei?

Gade would have to roll back the years in order to consider beating Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei. His record against both is poor (Lin Dan leads 16-3, Lee Chong Wei leads 16-1) and has failed to post a victory against either in over two years. Gade’s “victory” over Lee Chong Wei at the Thomas Cup in May came after just 3 points in the opening game.

Can Gade Win A Medal?

It would be a fitting way to Gade’s career for him to claim a medal in London, his main threats will come from Chen Jin and Chen Long in his quest for a medal. Gade’s record against both of the Chinese players is also poor (Chen Jin leads 8-2 and Chen Long leads 3-2) and without a victory over Chen Jin in almost four years, any hint of injury or fatigue will make a medal of any colour very difficult for Gade in London. He could win a medal, but the Olympics have came probably one year too late for Gade to be considered a medal contender.

2012 Olympics Preview – Lee Chong Wei

On July 1, 2012, in Olympics, by Eddie Smith

With less than 4 weeks to go until the 2012 Olympics, the world’s best players are preparing for the biggest tournament since Beijing four years previously.

The first player to preview is Lee Chong Wei, who was the favourite for the men’s singles until an ankle injury in the Thomas Cup five weeks previously cast doubt whether the Malaysian will make the Olympics at all.

Lee Chong Wei was the on-form player and perennial favourite for almost every Super Series in the past 12 months, he claimed his first All England in 2010 and defended successfully in 2011 but the one criticism of Lee Chong Wei’s career is the lack of World Championships, Asian Championships or Olympic golds.

He has lost his world number 1 for the first time in recent memory with his injury layoff to beg the question if he will in fact take part in the Olympics and potentially risk his final year in the sport that will end at the 2013 World Championships.

Does He Need An Olympic Gold To Cement His Legacy?

The answer is probably yes. His last match in the Olympics in 2008 was Lin Dan at his absolute best and Lee Chong Wei needs one of those landmark moments in his career to validate his place in the all-time greats of the game. 199 weeks at the world number 1 spot and 42 titles mean nothing without an Olympic gold or a gold medal at the 2013 World Championships. Another defeat to Lin Dan in London would cement his place at the second best player of this generation, which a win puts him into the discussion of greatest player in recent history.

Can He Win Olympic Gold?

Before his injury, he was the favourite to claim Olympic gold. Even with a 19-9 deficit in his head to heads to Lin Dan, he won their last meeting of relevance in Korea in January of this year. With this ankle injury, his recovery was meant to be a month that sounded like an optimistic estimation. Now, the same people are saying it will be 6 weeks since his injury (May 22) that gives the Malaysian 22 days to be 100% for the Olympics. However, the mindset of Lee Chong Wei is questionable whether his confident in his body and with the speculated attempt suicide of his father just 3 weeks ago hardly the perfect build up to the Olympics.

Can He Beat Lin Dan?

To win Olympic gold, is it almost a certainty that he will need to defeat at some stage. His form going into the Olympics was excellent, losing just one match to Shon Wan Ho in India in late April. Two injury withdrawals against Lin Dan and Peter Gade ask the question if Lee Chong Wei is physically capable to defeat Lin Dan, with the Chinese player gearing his training and scheduling for the greatest chance of retaining his Olympic title.

The last major event before the Olympics has attracted the worlds best to Indonesia for the 3rd Premier Series event of 2012, but for Denmark it has been an early exit for many of it’s top players.

Gade and Axelsen Out

Sony Dwi Kuncoro added another big name scalp to his recent run of good form, after defeating Lin Dan in Thailand he disposed of the 3rd seeded Peter Gade in three games to claim one of the biggest casualties of the men’s singles to date. The biggest casualty was the 2nd seeded Chen Jin, who retired from his match against Jan O Jorgensen trailing a game and 10-7 in the second game. Viktor Axelsen crashed out to Ajay Jayaram but there was a second Dane through to the last 16, Hans-Kristian Vittinghus defeated Daren Liew to set up a second round match against Lee Hyun Il.

All five of the Chinese seeds are safely into the second round, with both Wang Xin and Wang Shixian needing three games to advance into the last 16. Saina Nehwal and Tine Baun also needed three games to progress in their opening round match whilst two of the Chinese seeds needed less than a game to progress with Wang Yihan and Jiang Yanjiao benefitting from retirements from their opponents.

Indonesian Presence In Doubles

There is a large contingent of Indonesia pairs left in the draw, but the top seeds are still safely in the draw also. Lee and Jung are the top seeded pair that started the week and started with a simple two game win to reach the last 16. Their main threats this week will come from the 3rd seeded Boe and Mogensen and 4th seeded Ko and Yoo who both progressed without the loss of a game. The main Indonesian threat will come from Kido and Setiawan, after the unseeded pair took out the 7th seeded Fang and Lee in the opening round.

Pedersen and Rytter Juhl are the biggest names to crash out of the women’s doubles, losing to Indonesia’s Bernadeth and Pradipta in two games. The top seeded Wang and Yu took little time in reaching the last 16, losing just 10 points on route to the second round. Their perennial rivals Zhao and Tian also safely progressed into the second round with a two game victory.

Zhang and Zhao defeated Adcock and Bankier in the biggest match of the day in the mixed doubles, with the world number 1 pairing winning in two games to reach the last 16. Laybourn and Rytter Juhl compounded a poor day for the Danes by crashing out at the first round against Ko and Eom in two games. The bottom half of the draw is littered with Chinese pairings, with the standout match of the second round being the 2nd seeded Xu and Ma taking on He and Bao in an all-Chinese second round clash.

Day 2 Results

It was a poor day for the Chinese in Bangkok as two of their top seeds crashed out at the semi final stage.

Lin Dan and Wang Lin Out

Sony Dwi Kuncoro’s upset over Lin Dan ensured there would be no all-Chinese final in the men’s singles. Yueken Chun will be China’s sole representative in any either of the singles final with his victory over Gao Huan in the other semi final. Wang Lin’s run in the women’s singles was ended by the 2nd seeded Inthanon Ratchanok in two games to book her place in the final against the top seeded Saina Nehwal, with the top seeded Indian dropping just a single set on route to the final.

China With Three Chances At Titles

Liu and Qiu are the only Chinese top seeds left in the draw in the men’s doubles and will take on the 8th seeded Latif and Tazari of Malaysia after both pairs negotiated their semi final opponents in just two games. Cheng and Pan are the sole Chinese pair left in the women’s doubles, after the defeat of the top seeded Huan and Tang to the unseeded pairing of Narissapat and Thongthongkam in two games to set up Sunday’s final.

The sole European hope were the top seeded Fischer Nielsen and Pedersen, but they lost their semi final encounter to Jiaming and Tang to ensure a third Chinese pair into a final this week. Prapakamol and Thoungthongkam are the Chinese pair opponents in the mixed doubles final with the second seeds defeating Singapores Chrisnanta and Neo in two games.

Saturday’s Results

China and Thailand dominate in Bangkok as Lin Dan as reached the last 4 in his build up to the 2012 Games.

China Dominate Men’s Singles

Lin Dan is joined in the semi final by qualifier Gao Huan, who takes on another Chinese player in Yuekun Chen. The Chinese qualifier defeated Takuma Ueda in the opening round whilst his opponent has just dropped a game on route to the last 4. Lin Dan takes on Sony Dwi Kuncoro, who defeated Sourabh Varma in his quarter final in impressive fashion, winning 21-6, 21-8 in just 31 minutes.

The top three seeds are all safely into the last 4 of the women’s singles, joined by Wang Lin who takes on Inthanon Ratchanok. The 2nd seed from Thailand has failed to drop a game on route to the semi final but in their most recent matchup in Australia, the unseeded Chinese player took the match in three games. The other semi final sees the top seeded Saina Nehwal take on the 3rd seeded Porntip Buranaprasertsuk with the Indian top seed winning all of their previous 4 encounters.

Chinese Interest In Doubles Events

Liu and Qiu are the top seeds in the men’s doubles but take on the pairing of Kim and Kim who they have failed to be in both their previous 2 matchups. Hoon and Tan of Malayisa take on Latif and Tazari in an all-Malaysian semi final. Huan and Tang are another top seeded Chinese pair, this time in the women’s doubles and take on the Thai pairing of Narissapat and Thoungthongkam for a place in Sunday’s final. Cheng and Pan have the opportunity to make it an all-Chinese final should they and the top seeds make it through to their semi final with the 5th seeds taking on Aroonkesorn and Voravichitchaikul, seeded 6th this week.

Fischer Nielsen and Pedersen take on Jiaming and Tang in the first of the mixed doubles semi final, with the Danish top seeds being the last Europeans left in the draw. The other semi final sees the 2nd seeded Prapakamol and Thoungthongkam take on the 4th seeded Singapore pairing Chrisnanta and Neo of Singapore.

Friday’s Results

With less than two months to the opening match of the Olympics, the respective governing bodies have chosen their players to take part in the 2012 Games.

The men’s singles draw will consist of 40 players, with a group stage being introduced for the first time at the Olympics. The draw will consist of 16 groups, with the top 8 players getting a group of just 2 players whilst the 9-16 seeds will be in a group of 3.

1. Lee Chong Wei (Malaysia)
2. Lin Dan (China)
3. Chen Long (China)
4. Chen Jin (China)
5. Peter Gade (Denmark)
6. Sho Sasaki (Japan)
7. Lee Hyun Il (Korea)
8. Kenichi Tago (Japan)

Chen Jin only qualified for the Olympics a mere 4 days before the qualification period ended, with China taking 3 of the top 4 places. Lee Chong Wei’s injury to his ankle at the Thomas Cup puts his presence in the competition at risk, with the Malaysian team claiming that the world number 1 will be out for just a month being an optimistic timeframe for his return to action. If Lee Chong Wei should miss the Olympics or not be 100% then the undoubted favourite for the competition will be the defending champion Lin Dan.

Only the group winners will qualify, but the top 8 will only need to beat a player outside the top 20 in the world to ensure their place in the knockout stages of the event.

9. Simon Santoso (Indonesia)
10. Tien Minh Nguyen (Vietnam)
11. Taufik Hidayat (Indonesia)
12. Jan O Jorgensen (Denmark)
13. Shon Wan Ho (Korea)
14. Marc Zwiebler (Germany)
15. Rajiv Ouseph (Great Britain)
16. Wong Wing Ki (Hong Kong)

Jan O Jorgensen was selected ahead of both Hans-Kristian Vittinghus and Viktor Axelsen to ensure his place at this years Olympics whilst Shon Wan Ho left it to the last possible week to book his place in the qualification spots after jumping from 17 to 14 in the world to ensure a second Korean player in the draw. Taufik Hidayat has made the qualification criteria as he looks for a last flash of brillance to claim his second Olympic title after winning in Athens eight years previously. Rajiv Ouseph is the only British hope in the draw, with the world number 20 narrowly edging out Spain’s Pablo Abian to ensure four European seeds from the 16.

The 9-16 seeds will have a more precarious qualifying process, needing to win the group with three players in it instead of just two.

The remaining 24 players range from the world number 22 Pablo Abian to the two wildcards, Virgil Soeroredjo and Mohamed Ajfan Rasheed who are both ranked outside the top 200 in the world and will be seen as the players the seeded players will most likely want in their groups.

The live draw for the groups will be held in the Olympic Park Main Press Center on July 23 with the final confirmed list of players being released on July 20.

Special thanks to Jan Lin from the BWF for this information

China claimed both the Thomas and Uber Cup on home soil in Wuhan in a perfect build up to the Olympics in two months time.

Thomas Cup

A perfect record of 19 victories from 19 ensured China’s successful defence of the Thomas Cup, with a 3-0 victory over Korea in the final. Lin Dan defeated Lee Hyun Il, before Cai and Fu doubled the lead against Lee and Kim in a two tight games before Chen Long completed their rout of Korea with a two game victory over Shon Wan Ho. China dropped just 2 games from their 40 games this week.

Uber Cup

China’s women reclaimed the Uber Cup against the holders Korea in another one-sided final. Wang Yihan dropped the opening game to Sung Ji Hyun before fighting back to save four match points and take the second game 22-20. The third game was more dominant from the world number 1, taking the decider 21-13. Wang and Yu had little trouble doubling the lead with a 21-15, 21-13 victory over Ha and Kim before Wang Xin clinched the match with a 21-10, 21-16 win over Bae Youn Joo.

Thomas Cup Final

Uber Cup Final

Sixteen nations begun the week in Wuhan but come the weekend, only two remain. China and Korea will fight it out for Uber Cup glory on Saturday, then once more for the Thomas Cup on Sunday.

Thomas Cup

Korea’s hopes this week fell on a squad without Jung Jae Sung, but Lee Hyun Il gave them the perfect start with a victory over Peter Gade, whose form recently has been far from the heights of even a year ago. Boe and Mogensen ensured parity after 2 matches with a convincing two game victory over Ko and Yoo. Then came the between the world number 13 and 14 for a chance to put their nation within a match of the Thomas Cup final. Shon Wan Ho defeated Jan O Jorgensen in three games to put Korea on the brink of the final. 73 minutes later, they were in the final as Lee and Kim defeated Rasmussen and Fischer Neilsen to ensure Korea’s place in Sunday’s final. For Denmark, it was a stunning loss that could have been avoided had Gade not lost his opening singles, with Viktor Axelsen waiting in the 5th match to take on the world number 166 Lee Dong Keun.

China needed just 3 matches and 6 games to book their place in the final. Lin Dan started the semi final with a two game victory over Sho Sasaki, soon followed by Cai and Fu winning their doubles. Chen Long completed the task against Kenichi Tago in an hour to book China’s place in the Thomas Cup Final.

Uber Cup

It was a pair of one-sided finals in the Uber Cup, with Korea defeating Japan 3-0 with the loss of just a single game but the story this week has been the dominance of the Chinese. Wang Yihan started with a two game victory over Inthanon Ratchanok, then the world number 1 pairing of Wang and Yu put China within a match of the final but the most impressive performance was left until last. Wang Xin’s stunning 21-17, 21-2 victory over Porntip Buranaprasertsuk was a message of intent after their stunning 2010 loss to Korea in the Uber Cup final.

Thomas Cup Semi Finals

Uber Cup Semi Finals

Three powerhouses in world badminton have all safely progressed into the semi final stages of both events, with Denmark and Thailand hoping to claim at least one title in Wuhan this week.

Thomas Cup

China’s 3-0 victory was a foregone conclusion without the presence of Lee Chong Wei, Daren Liew gave them a brief moment of hope when he surprisingly took the opening game against Lin Dan, only for the world number 2 to fight back to win the next two dropping just 14 points. Cai and Fu doubled the advantage with a two game victory over Koo and Tam before Chen Long sealed the 3-0 win in two games. Their opponents in the semi final will be Japan, who needed all five games to seal their place in the last 4 against Indonesia. Santoso gave Indonesia a 1-0 lead before Kido and Setiawan once against lost to a lower ranked pair and have been the weak point of the Indonesian team this week. Kenichi Tago defeated Taufik Hidayat to put Japan on the brink of the semi final, only for Ahsan and Septano to win a vital elimination match to take the rubber to the final match. Takuma Ueda stunning victory over Dionysius Hayom Runbaka gave Japan a 3-2 victory and a place in Friday’s semi final.

Korea and Denmark meet in the second semi final, with both nations progressing 3-0. Denmark were too strong for Russia, as they dropped just a single game on route to the last 4. Korea also only dropped a single match on route to the last 4 and both nations will be pleased to have missed China in the semi finals.

Uber Cup

China were simply too strong for a German squad without Juliane Schenk to lead the line, the 3-0 victory was an accurate result given the gulf in class between the two nations. China’s opponents in the semi final are Thailand, who defeated Denmark 3-1 in their quarter final. Denmark were always going to need two special performances to have any chance against the Thais, but Tine Baun’s sole victory in the opening singles was all that they could get as they fell in 4 matches.

The current Uber Cup champions Korea were one game away from elimination, down 2-1 and level at one game all in the 4th match of their rubber against Chinese Taipei. The world number 3 pairing of Ha and Kim lost their match, as well as the world number 13 Bae Youn Joo after Sung Ji Hyun’s opening victory. Kim and Jung won the 4th match in three games to take the game to a 5th and deciding match, where Hwang Hye Youn won the 3rd singles match to ensure Korea’s qualification into the last 4 in a quarter final that should have been a routine victory. Japan made hard work of their quarter final also, squandering a 2-0 lead after Eriko Hirose and the world number 7 pairing of Niato and Matsuo also failed to win their matches to make the score 2-2 going into the final match. Minatsu Mitani saved Japan’s blushes with a two game victory to reach the semi final stage, with both nations supposed stronger players failing to perform on the day.

Wednesday’s Results

The 2012 Thomas and Uber Cup Finals have seen their fair share of shock results, but the biggest scare of the week so far is Lee Chong Wei’s ankle injury sustained in his match against Peter Gade.

Thomas Cup

The host nation China had little trouble in winning Group A, with a pair of 5-0 victories over Indonesia and England with the loss of just one game in the 10 matches. Indonesia claimed second place in the group with a 4-1 victory over England to reach the quarter final stage. Japan topped Group B with a perfect record of 10 victories without the loss of a single game, defeating Russia and New Zealand 5-0. Russia claimed the second place in the with their own 5-0 victory over New Zealand to reach the last 8.

Denmark topped Group C after defeating Malaysia in a tight 3-2 victory, but only due to Lee Chong Wei’s retirement in the opening match against Peter Gade. Leading 2-1 in the opening game, the world number twisted his ankle awkwardly attempting to play a routine drop shot and was forced to retire from the match. The estimation of his layoff is set to be 3-4 weeks but other sources claim that the ankle injury is much more serious and the chances of making the Olympics are unlikely. Denmark claimed both doubles matches to ensure a 3-2 victory and top spot in the group whilst Malaysia progress to the last 8 but will be without Lee Chong Wei for the rest of the event. Korea top Group D with a narrow 3-2 victory over Germany as both nations reach the last 8 with both Korea and Germany defeating the US.

Uber Cup

China also topped Group A in the Uber Cup after a both of withdrawals in their final match against Indonesia ensured a second 5-0 victory in the group. Indonesia will also go through to the last 8 after defeating South Africa earlier in the group. Thailand and Chinese Taipei go through from Group B, with both nations losing a match in the group stage, the Netherlands shocked Chinese Taipei in the opening match of the group whilst Thailand defeated Netherlands 5-0 before going down 3-2 to Chinese Taipei, meaning the group went down to matches won.

Korea safely progressed without the loss of a match in Group C as Germany’s singles players ensured their place in the last 8 with a tight 3-2 win over Australia to ensure their qualification. Japan edged out Denmark for top spot in Group D as the Dane led Japan 2-0 in the final group match, only for the Japanese to win the next three games and win the rubber as well as the Group.

Tuesday’s Results

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