London 2012 Olympics – All Wrapped Up

On August 10, 2012, in Olympics, by Eddie Smith

9 Days, 5 Chinese Golds and 8 disqualified athletes as the wait for another Olympics begins once more. The Great British dream turned into a nightmare inside the opening two hours of play whilst a legend was born in the final two hours of play.

The Winners

Lin Dan successfully defended his Olympic crown with a performance that to an extent, surpasses his victory in Beijing four years previously. There was no partisan crown in Wembley Arena and there was an equal on the court in Lee Chong Wei. It is to date, the greatest Olympic match ever.

Li Xuerui was a relative unknown inside this arena 12 months ago, as she watched on as the world championships took place. Now she leaves London as Olympic champion as the Chinese justified her inclusion ahead of Wang Shixian. What Li Xuerui brings is a trait that is rarely seen in Chinese players, an absolute desire to win that surpasses her talents and ability.

Cai and Fu achieved the final piece of their careers with an Olympic gold, the only title that the Chinese pair had never won. They lost in the final in Beijing four years ago and had to wait until now to redeem themselves, which they did in spectacular fashion as they won gold without the loss of a game.

Indian badminton will consider this a triumph for what they have achieved, with Kashyup Parupalli’s run to the quarterfinals and with Saina Nehwal’s bronze medal. With high hopes going into the 2013 World Championship in Guangzhou as well as the remainder of the 2012 season.

Alex Bruce and Michelle Li were the story of the women’s doubles in the aftermath of the group phase scandal. Their semi-final match was a testament to what the Olympics set out to achieve – despite their defeat to Fujii and Kakiiwa, they had inspired a generation.

The Losers

Chris Adcock and Imogen Bankier came into the Olympics with medal expectations, those expectations were tempered after an opening match defeat and before several of the world’s best singles players had set foot on court, their dream was over. Their success in 2011 was partly due to the lack of expectation and the surprise of their unlikely run to the World Championship final, there was nothing like that in 2012. A nation expected.

Lee Chong Wei came within two points of an Olympic title, only for Lin Dan to snatch glory from the Malaysian’s grasp for the second year running. It is perhaps not has heartbreaking as his defeat in 2011, where he did have a match point in the final but his reaction after his final shot was one of total dejection. Comforted by his coaches as he was forced to watch Lin Dan celebrate in his defeat. Only one final chance in Guangzhou waits for the Malaysian to claim a major title.

Lee Yong Dae and Chung Jae Sung were touted as the favourites for the men’s doubles titles going into the Olympics Online Pokies. Lee Yong Dae’s mixed doubles campaign lasted a mere three games but in the men’s doubles, the Korean pair breezed into the semi finals only to be outdone by the brilliance of an inspired Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen. They ended up with the bronze medal, with the Olympics being Chung Jae Sung’s final event as Lee Yong Dae will have a new partner after this week.

Indonesia will leave London without an Olympic medal, with the failures of Taufik Hidayat, Simon Santoso and the mixed doubles pairing of Ahmad and Natsir failing to secure a bronze medal against Fischer and Pedersen.

Final Farewell

Peter Gade’s Olympic career came to an end at the quarterfinal stage, with Chen Long defeating the Dane in two games in a match that Gade claims he played some of his best badminton in recent memory. Just three events remain in the legendary career of Peter Gade – Japan, France and a final farewell in Denmark.

The Disgraced Eight

The criticism that has been widespread is not that they opted to lose the matches, but the manner in how they chose to do it. The distain and arrogance on show to blatantly throw the matches with serving into the net and not allowing a rally of more than four points has questioned the professionalism of every badminton player, not just the eight players expelled.

The feeling from within badminton is that given the opportunity to do it once again, all of the pairs would have no problem doing it again. The counterargument is that they are ultimately playing for an Olympic gold medal, which is four years of work and that after putting in so much effort to reach the Olympics – the possibility of making the job easier in one that should be taken.

The Chinese squad, wanted gold and silver from the women’s doubles which was indeed achievable. The Korean and Indonesian pairs merely wanted to avoid the Chinese pairs in the later stages. This all stemmed from a match earlier in the day between Pedersen and Rytter Juhl, who defeated Tian and Zhao in their group. Little did they know that the effect of that victory would eliminate four of their biggest rivals in the next 24 hours as well.

Yu Yang has allegedly retired, walking away from the game that she adores. Wang Xiaoli has promised to regain people’s trust in her and in the middle of it Li Yongbo takes sole responsibility for the actions of his players. It has been a problem throughout the Olympic qualification process, with phantom injuries leading to walkovers.

What the BWF have done with this landmark decision is opened the door for more walkovers instead of these farcical matches but also forced sporting integrity to be upheld. There will undoubtedly be a change to the format of the competition in Rio come 2016, but there will be little change in the nations that dominate the sport as China claimed all five gold medals in London.

London 2012 Olympics – Day 6 – Gade’s Farewall

On August 2, 2012, in Olympics, by Eddie Smith

The European dream of gold in London has faded with every passing day, but today was the end of any chances in the singles with the defeats of Tine Baun and Peter Gade.

Men’s Singles

Chen Long ended Peter Gade’s Olympic career with a classy two game victory over the Dane, who claimed after the match that he played some of his best badminton of the year in is defeat. Chen Long’s reward is a semi-final against the world number 1 Lee Chong Wei, who ended Kashyup Parupalli’s fairytale run at the Olympics in two games to ensure a medal for at least one of the two semi finalists.

Lin Dan secured his place in the semi final with a three game victory over Sho Sasaki, but any hopes of an all-Chinese semi final were derailed by Lee Hyun Il who ended Chen Jin’s campaign in a tight two game victory to book his place in the last 4.

Women’s Singles

The four best players in the world have all reached the semi final stage, with only the second seeded Wang Xin dropping a game in today’s matches. Wang Xin needed three games to end the run of the 17-year old Inthanon Ratchanok, who looks to be a star for the future for her native Thailand. Li Xuerui will take on Wang Xin in the semi finals after the 3rd seed defeated Yip Pui Yin of Hong Kong to reach the last 4.

Wang Yihan has a repeat performance in Wembley Arena against Cheng Shao Chieh in her semi final, with the Chinese top seed securing a straight forward two game victory to reach the semi finals. Saina Nehwal takes on the top seeded Chinese player in the last 4 after ending Tine Baun’s run at the quarter final stage, with the Dane celebrating a line call that would have won her the second game prematurely which resulted in Saina Nehwal saving multiple game points before winning the match on her first match point.

Men’s Doubles

The top three pairs in the world all secured their place in the last 4, where they are also joined by the Commonwealth champions Koo and Tan of Malaysia. The unseeded Koo and Tan take on Cai and Fu in the first of the semi finals, with both pairs successfully negotiating their way into the last 4 with tight two game victories. Lee and Chung take on Boe and Mogensen in the second semi final, with both pairs also coming through their matches in two games to set up their 17th meeting against one another.

Women’s Doubles

The impossible and improbable dream of Alex Bruce and Michelle Li almost became a reality, as they took Fujii and Kakiiwa to three games and booked their place in the bronze medal playoff. The Japanese pair will take on the world number 2 pairing of Tian and Zhao in Saturday’s gold medal match after the Chinese pair disposed of Vislova and Sorokina in a one-sided match.

Mixed Doubles

The first medals will be won in tomorrow’s afternoon session as the two best pairs in the world face off in an all-Chinese gold medal match. Both pairs needed three games to defeat their opponents, with Fischer Neilsen and Pedersen taking on Ahmad and Natsir in the bronze medal match in the morning session. Xu and Ma will take on Zhang and Zhao in a rematch of the world championship semi final held in this arena a year ago. It will be their 11th meeting, with the defending world champions Zhang and Zhao winning 8 of their 10 meetings to date.

Day 6 Results

2012 London Olympics – Match Fixing Aftermath

On August 2, 2012, in Olympics, by Eddie Smith

There were 4 eliminations before play even begun today, with the disqualification of all four pairs in the women’s doubles accused of match fixing. That allowed the 3rd and 4th placed pairs from Group A and C into the quarter finals at their expense.

Men’s Singles

An inspired Lee Chong Wei answered all of his critics in his second round masterclass against Simon Santoso, with the top seeded Malaysian comfortably booking his place in the last 8 with a two game victory. Kashyup Parupalli awaits the top seed in the quarter finals, with the Indian defeating Sri Lanka’s Niluka Karunaratne in three games to offer India a second hope of a medal in the singles events.

The last 16 saw exits for Jan O Jorgensen, Marc Zwiebler, Kevin Cordon and most noticably Taufik Hidayat who was defeated by Lin Dan in his final Olympic appearance of the Indonesian’s career. Chen Long and Chen Jin ensured a trio of Chinese players in the last 8, with the 3rd seeded Chen Long taking on Peter Gade in the quarter finals in what could be Gade’s final appearance at the Olympics also.

Women’s Singles

The biggest casualty of the last 16 was Germany’s Juliane Schenk, with Inthanon Ratchanok ending the run of the 6th seed at the second round in a two game victory for the 9th seeded Thai. Yip Pui Yin defeated Pi Honygan to further reduce any chance of European success, the unseeded player from Hong Kong takes on the 3rd seeded Li Xuerui in the quarter finals.

Wang Yihan faught back from a game down to ensure her place in the last 8 at the expense of Bae Youn Joo and set up a world championship rematch from last year against Cheng Shao Chieh. Tine Baun became the final European player left in the draw after Sayaka Sato retired from their match whilst leading 15-14 but the Danes task in the quarter final will be much harder as Baun takes on Saina Nehwal in the last 8. The Indian 4th seed defeated Yao Jie of Holland to reach the quarter finals and set up a matchup against Baun.

Women’s Doubles

Without winning a game in Group A, Michelle Li and Alex Bruce are into the semi finals of the women’s doubles after a two game victory over Australia’s Veeran and Choo to set up their match against Fujii and Kakiiwa of Japan. The 4th seeded Japanese pair ended the run of Denmark’s Rytter Juhl and Pedersen in two games to set up their semi final against the Canadians.

The other semi final features Vislova and Sorokina, who came third in Group A but defeated Viljoen and Edwards to reach the last 4 and take on the 2nd seeded Tian and Zhao of China, who defeated Cheng and Chien of Chinese Taipei in two games.

Mixed Doubles

The four seeded pairs remain in the mixed doubles, with Xu and Ma coming closest to elimination after surviving a match point in order to defeat Mateusiak and Zieba of Poland. Their reward for victory is a semi final match against Ahmad and Natsir, who defeated Fuchs and Michels in two games to book safe passage into the last 4.

Fischer Neilsen and Pedersen are the sole European hope, after their victory over Prapakamol and Thoungthongkam of Thailand but will take on the current world champions Zhang and Zhao who ended the campaign of the 2009 world champions and Danish team mates Laybourn and Rytter Juhl.

Day 5 Results

London 2012 Olympics – Day 5 Preview

On July 31, 2012, in Olympics, by Eddie Smith

The great British dream ended at the group stages, but the show must go on. 32 players and 24 pairs remain to fight for five gold medals as the world’s elite face one another to edge ever closer to a medal.

Men’s Singles

Simon Santoso is the latest player to have his chance at Lee Chong Wei, with a pair of impressive victories whilst the top seed struggled past Ville Lang and the rest of the field now know what Lee Chong Wei’s limitations are. The other side of the draw offers the match of the day tomorrow, as the 2008 Olympic champion Lin Dan takes on the 2004 Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat in what could be the Indonesian’s final match of his historic career.

Another player in the twilight of his career is Peter Gade, who takes on Shon Wan Ho in his second round encounter with the winner of Wong Wing Ki and Chen Long waiting in the last 8. Two more Europeans will hope to keep a continents dream alive as Jan O Jorgensen and Marc Zwiebler take on higher seeded Asian opponents tomorrow, with the Dane taking on Lee Hyun Il whilst the German takes on the 4th seeded Chen Jin.

Women’s Singles

Only Wang Yihan and Wang Xin had the luxury of a group of two, the other 14 women had to progress from groups of 3 with only two seeds falling at the opening hurdle. One of those seeds was Petya Nedelcheva, who was knocked out by Indonesia’s Adrianti Firdasari – who takes on the 2nd seed, Wang Xin in the second round. The top seeded Wang Yihan takes on Bae Youn Joo of Korea in her last 16 match, with a potential world championship rematch with Cheng Shao Chieh waiting in the quarter finals.

Saina Nehwal and Tine Baun are just one victory away from facing one another at the last 8 stage. The Indian takes on Yao Jie in her second round match whilst Baun takes on Sayako Sato of Japan. Yip Pui Yin is the only other unseeded player left in the draw after defeating Sung Ji Hyun in the group stages, the Hong Kong player takes on Pi Hongyan for a place in the last 8.

Women’s Doubles

With the group stages complete, the manipulation of the draw will cease and a winner will be crowned. The marquee match of the day sees the top seeded Wang and Yu take on the 3rd seeded Ha and Kim, with the top seeds losing their final group game to ensure they could not take on their Chinese team-mates until the final. Tian and Zhao take on Chien and Cheng of Chinese Taipei in the half of the draw where they are the only seeds in it, whilst the final seeds – Fujii and Kakiiwa take on the Danish pair of Rytter Juhl and Pedersen, who topped Group D.

Mixed Doubles

The four seeds all won their group and will avoid playing one another at least for another round but there is a refreshing mix of pairs left in the draw but without the defending champion Lee Yong Dae. Four European pairs take on four Asian pairs for a battle of continental supremacy with the 2011 world champions Zhang and Zhao taking on the 2009 world champions Laybourn and Rytter Juhl for a place in the last 4 and a potential all-Danish semi final. 4th seeded Fischer Neilsen and Pedersen take on the Thai pairing of Prapakamol and Thoungthongkam for a place in the last 4 as the only European seed hope to keep European hopes alive.

Xu and Ma take on current European champions, Mateusiak and Zieba of Germany whilst the 4th quarter final features the 3rd seeded Ahmad and Natsir taking on the German pairing of Fuchs and Michels, the higher ranked left in the draw at 22.

Day 5 Schedule

2012 London Olympics – Dates/Times For The Diary

On July 25, 2012, in Olympics, by Eddie Smith

The group stages have provided countless intriguing matches, from the opening session of play all the way to the final session of the group phase.

All Start Times Are Local Times

Saturday, July 28 – 8.30am
Lee / Ha (Korea) – Laybourn / Rytter Juhl (Denmark)

The toughest mixed doubles group of the four opens up play inside Wembley Arena, with the world number 8 and 9 pairs clashing to take one step closer to the quarter finals. They sole meeting came at the German GP in April and resulted in a one-sided victory for the Danes which they will hope for this weekend. There is also the question of endurance for Lee Yong Dae, as he will be back on court that night in the men’s doubles with Chung Jae Sung over 12 hours after playing his opening mixed doubles match. Saturday will be a long day for Lee Yong Dae.

Sunday, July 29 – 8.30am
Zhang / Zhao (China, Seeded 1) – Adcock / Bankier (Great Britain)

Wembley Arena has brought them together once more, with the playing field evened ever so slightly from little under a year ago. The Brits have claimed two famous victories since their defeat at the World Championships against this Chinese pair, both coming at Super Series Premier events. Zhang and Zhao claimed their most recent match in Indonesia last month, but the British pair have something they didn’t have a year ago, belief that they could beat the Chinese. There was hope last year that their run the final would continue on for one more day, but on Sunday morning there is a belief and a track record to support them – as well as a capacity crowd.

Sunday, July 29 – 1.40pm
Chen Long (China, Seeded 3) – Boonsak Ponsana (Thailand)

On paper, this should be a routine victory on route to the last 16 for the 3rd seed but their head to head suggests differently. The world number 22 has a 2-1 advantage over Chen Long from Ponsana’s time inside the world’s top ten. Their last match was over 18 months ago but this is far from an easy match for Chen Long.

Monday, July 30 – 9.05am
Wang Yihan (China, Seeded 1) – Michelle Li (Canada)

The Canadian has struggled with food poisoning in the build up this week, but there will be no excuses available to Wang Yihan should she fail to reach the last 16. It will be their first match against one another, with the world number 1 a massive favourite to go through. Michelle Li’s draw in the women’s doubles is just as tough as she will take on the world number 1 pairing of Wang and Yu the day before her opening singles match.

Monday, July 30 – 2.15pm
Lee Chong Wei (Malaysia, Seeded 1) – Ville Lang (Finland)

The national secret over the rehabilitation of Lee Chong Wei’s ankle will be revealed and tested on Monday afternoon, by the Finnish workhouse of Ville Lang. His 104-minute marathon against Christian Lind Thomsen in April has proven that is physically capable of withstanding a demanding match, he will lengthen rallies to tire opponents and he will test out Lee Chong Wei’s right ankle. Few are expecting a Lee Chong Wei defeat if he is anywhere near his best, but his rivals will watch this match intently for signs of discomfort and weakness.

Monday, July 30 – 7.44pm
Peter Gade (Denmark, Seeded 5) – Pedro Martins (Portugal)

And so the legend ends. Peter Gade’s final Olympics will begin on Monday night against Portugal’s Pedro Martins with the knowledge that a win will take him through to the last 16. It has been over two months since Gade’s last competitive victory, with a pair of losses to Lee Hyun Il and Sony Dwi Kuncoro adding more doubt to the legendary Gade’s chances of medalling in London. A strong performance will cast those doubts aside for at least a few days.

Monday, July 30 – 8.15pm
Lin Dan (China, Seeded 2) – Scott Evans (Ireland)

Lin Dan’s title defence starts against Scott Evans, a reserve for the event who know has the unthinkable task of ending the run of the defending champion. The pair have played three times previously with their most recent match taking place inside Wembley Arena at the 2011 Worlds, with Lin Dan winning comfortably. Scott Evans has never taken a game against Lin Dan, he’ll need two for the biggest shock of the Olympics.

Tuesday, July 31 – 2.19pm
Sayaka Sato (Japan, Seeded 12) – Susan Egelstaff (Great Britain)

Susan Egelstaff’s draw was considered favourable as she avoided the top 10 players in the world, but on further observation this could be the biggest shock of the group stages as well as one of the best moments inside Wembley Arena for the GB team. Egelstaff holds a 1-0 advantage in the head to heads, with a victory at the 2010 All England Championships but Sato also comes into the Olympics in a poor run of form – winning just 8 of her 22 matches this year.

Tuesday, July 31 – 3.20pm
Lee / Chung (Korea, Seeded 2) – Koo / Tan (Malaysia)

There will be something riding on this match in all likelihood for at least one of these pairs, whether it is for the group win or simply to qualify. Koo and Tan have failed to record a victory over the Korean pair since the 2010 Worlds in Paris and will probably need a victory to ensure their place in the last 8 with Boe and Mogensen or Chai and Guo waiting in the quarter finals for one if not both of the pairs.

Full Olympic Schedule

London 2012 Olympics – Group Stages Drawn

On July 24, 2012, in Olympics, by Eddie Smith

The London Olympics are just days away, the realisation that four years have passed since Lin Dan’s masterclass in Beijing and that five champions will be crowned – before it all ends for another four years come August 5.

All the favourites are present this year, Lee Chong Wei has recovered from his ankle injury but to what extent remains unclear. His first match will be against Finland’s Ville Lang, a EBU tour veteran whose physical approach to the game will be a intriguing test for the Malaysian and his ankle. Lin Dan takes on Scott Evans, with the Irishman making it into the Olympics from second reserve to be the first hurdle in Lin Dan’s defence of the title. A last 16 clash with Taufik Hidayat potentially awaits, as the 2004 and 2008 Olympic champions face one another in 2012.

Peter Gade starts his campaign against Portugal’s Pedro Martins, but matches with Shon Wan Ho and Chen Long await on his path to the semi final stage and any chance of a medal. British hopes lie in the hands of Rajiv Ouseph, who takes on the European silver medalist Henri Hurskainen and world championship quarter finalist Kevin Cordon – with the group winner taking on Sho Sasaki unless one of the greatest upsets in the history of the Olympics and Virgil Soeroredjo sensationally defeats the 6th seeded Sasaki.

Michelle Li will be the top seeded Wang Yihan’s opening round match, with the Canadian meeting the top seed in both her events at the Olympics. Wang Xin takes on the USA’s Rena Wang whilst Li Xuerui has to take on both Carolina Marin and Claudia Rivero to ensure her place in the last 16. Saina Nehwal’s quarter of the draw is laden with Europeans, with no less than 14 of the 16 players coming from European – headlined by the 5th seeded Tine Baun, Saina Nehwal’s likely quarter final opponent. Susan Egelstaff couldn’t have hand picked a better group, with Britain’s sole entry taking on the 12th seeded Sayaka Sato and Slovenia’s Maja Tvrdy, both of which she has a superior head to head against.

Perhaps the toughest groups of the Olympics is in the men’s doubles, with Lee and Chung of Korea taking on the 2005 world championships Bach and Gunawan, as well as the Japanese pair of Sato and Kawamae then finally Koo and Tan of Malaysia. Another intriguing group features the 4th seeded Ko and Yoo, who take on Issara and Jongjit of Thailand, a pair they have never beaten, as well as Poland’s Cwalina and Logosz before the hardest of their group matches against Ahsan and Septano.

The women’s doubles groups have varying degrees of difficulty, with Ha and Kim as well as Jauhari and Polii receiving a fortunate group featuring the African and Oceania entries for the Olympics. Whilst Group D has three pairs inside of the top 10, with Tian and Zhao, Maeda and Suetsuna as well as Rytter Juhl and Pedersen all battling for one spot. Not to mention the Singapore pair of Tse and Poon who have excellent records against all the pairs except the Chinese 2nd seeds in their group.

As if the script wasn’t written for this, Zhang and Zhao will take on Adcock and Bankier inside Wembley Arena once more. Both were put into Group A with Fuchs and Michels of Germany and Nikolaenko and Sorokina of Russia with the Brits being favoured to claim at least one of the qualification spots on offer. Group C is without a doubt the “group of death” at this year’s Olympics. With three of the top 9 pairs in the world in the same group, with the 4th pair being ranked 13th. Ahsan and Natsir, Laybourn and Rytter Juhl as well as Lee and Ha will have to fight for two places, with the Indian pair of V and Gutta undoubtably going to have some say in the final standings of this group also.

The Draws

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

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

© Copyright Badminton Life Inc 2011

Head Office Edmonton, Canada

"Badminton Life" is a Trademark of Badminton Life Inc