China wins the badminton team event at today’s Australian Youth Olympic Festival. How unsurprising you might think, but what cannot cease to amaze is the fact of how often once let out of the stables, the Chinese players don’t fail to perform.
Our correspondent, Aaron Wong, discovers that what is true in the senior Chinese ranks also proves true of their troupe of juniors.
By Aaron Wong, Badzine Correspondent, live from Sydney. Photos (live): Kevin Chan
China took on Malaysia in the team finals of badminton and emerged victorious after mixed doubles, boys’ singles, and girls’ doubles. Predictably, the victors chose not to play the dead rubbers whereas all the other nations did in their ties for a placing.
One can hardly imagine that swapping the boys’ for the girls’ events first up would have arrived at a different outcome given China’s longstanding world standing and innovation in the women’s game.
World Junior Rankings Less Meaningful
The Malaysians came into the competition possessing the higher world junior rankings across all three fixtures but only the first match of the tie, mixed doubles, provided any moments of uncertainty as Zhang Ningyi / Huang Yaqiong carved out a 21-14, 13-21, 21-13 scoreline over Tan Wee Gieen / Chow Mei Kuan to give the red side the early lead and confidence boost.
In the boys’ singles, world number 2 junior Soong Joo Ven went down 19-21, 12-21 to Xue Song who is 12 spots further down the rankings.
The boys’ doubles illustrated what the Chinese do remarkably well – poise. With former women’s doubles world number 1 Wong Pei Tty coaching, the Malaysians attacked with panache and urgency but it was countered with stubborn, constant, and very deep defence. It was the kind of defence that eventually erodes the nerve, confidence, and concentration of the other side such that loose shuttles come off your opponents’ racquets as they have to return shots so deep in the court that it ultimately robs them of time to recover or time to generate sufficient body momentum.
Zhang Ningyi and Tan Wee Gieen met again and once more Zhang, this time partnering Pei Tianyi, assailed Tanand/ Tai An Khang 21-18, 21-13.
Poise Under Pressure
It isn’t the defensive tactic or technical skills per se that are interesting but the imperturbable rhythm of the Chinese players that is impressive, surely borne of a training system that must entail incredible discipline to instil zero self doubt. This aspect at a higher level made the difference.
It is a fantastic achievement. The Chinese training model obviously works and, unnervingly for their opponents both present and future, begins to pay dividends early in a career with this poise developing into second nature like driving a car does.
“Tomorrow’s Olympians today” reads the slogan everywhere you turn. By all means turn up to watch and collect anecdotes about noticing them before they become famous (as the previous Sydney Youth Olympics alumni include London Olympics silver medallist China’s Chen Long and World Championships runner-up Chris Adcock of Great Britain) but observe closer and uncover the genesis of how much it really takes to make it to the top of badminton. It is far from being in the hand and footwork skills alone.
Chinese Taipei also ousted Great Britain in straight matches for the team bronze medals. The pattern continued throughout the day with Australia 2 defeating New Zealand straight through too, only to fall to Australia 1 later.
The individual events begin on Saturday. Follow the results HERE