MALAYSIA GPG 2011 Preview – More than just Gold

This week’s Malaysian tournament isn’t just another Grand Prix Gold event: it’s the event which kicks off the Olympic qualifying period. It has attracted some of the best shuttlers in […]

This week’s Malaysian tournament isn’t just another Gold event: it’s the event which kicks off the Olympic qualifying period. It has attracted some of the best shuttlers in the world. Wilson Chew, our correspondent in Alor Setar, looks at what is at stake this week.

By Wilson Chew, Badzine correspondent. Photos: Badmintonphoto

Based on the performances in the April tournaments in Melbourne, Chengdu, New Delhi and Trang, it is obvious that the intensity is growing on the international circuit and the heat is on for the players of respective countries starting to be beefed up for this tournament towards the World Championships in London next August and most importantly to start gaining points to qualify for the 2012 London Summer Olympics.

The host country, Malaysia, will be represented with the most number of players and the focus will definitely be on Datuk Lee Chong Wei. If logic prevails, he should meet China’s Bao Chunlai (photo) in the final as Taufik Hidayat has withdrawn from the competition. The other players, namely Wong Choong Hann (pictured above) will also be playing and based on his performances in the recent months, he can spring a few surprises in this tournament. All the men’s singles players from the senior level to the back-up level are playing as well such as Chan Kwong Beng, Liew Daren, Tan Chun Seang, Loh Wei Sheng, Tew Gee Chong, Arif Mohd Abdul Latif and many more.

Lydia Cheah, Tee Jing Yi, Sannatasah Saniru, Sonia Cheah and  Florah Ng will be playing in the qualification round. The men’s doubles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles pairs from Malaysia will all be participating in full force.

The recent strong showing by the Thail players are very impressive, namely Porntip Buranaprasertsuk and Ratchanok Intanon, make them the players to watch. Not forgetting Salakjit Ponsana, Sapsiree Taerattanachai and Nichaon Jindapon. Their mixed doubles and men’s doubles suffered some setbacks in the Yonex Sunrise India Open Super Series and they will be out to scalp all that blocked their way to the titles in this tournament.

China will be relying on Bao Chunlai and Chen Jin to win the men’s singles title and with the absence of Lu Lan and Wangs Shixian and Yihan, that will leave Wang Xin, Jiang Yanjiao and  Wang Lin to spearhead the women’s singles category.  As in Australia, Wang Lin (photo) will be forced to play qualifying and much to the dismay of local fans, she is in the same bracket with the home team’s brightest stars, Tee Jing Yi and both Cheah sisters!

The Japanese men’s doubles and women’s singles cannot be looked down on either. India has also came out strongly lately and they are also sending quite a number of good players, led by Saina Nehwal and they can defeat anyone anytime as what happened to Sony Dwi Kuncoro, Kenichi Tago and Tan Chun Seang by losing to Sourabh Verma. Unfortunately, Sourabh will not be seen in Alor Star.

Also, eyes should be on shuttlers from Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong & Vietnam too. With all these interesting matchups and everyone pushing themselves hard and tough here, the matches are bound to be filled with lots of interesting action.

The qualification matches will be held on Tuesday, May 3rd while the main draw kicks off on Wednesday May 4th.

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