The 2017 edition of the All England Badminton Championships was special for many: it was the first time since 1999 that five nations shared the glory of winning the tournament. It was also the first All England victory for all the winners save for Lee Chong Wei, who now has his fourth title.
Story: Serla Rusli and Tarek Hafi, Badzine Correspondents live from Birmingham
Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)
Olympic silver medallists Chan Peng Soon / Goh Yiu Ling failed to clinch their first All England title. They lost to Lu Kai / Huang Yaqiong, who managed to hold out better under intense pressure in the 86-minute battle.
“We should have seen out the second game, but we made some big errors which saw the Chinese pair get back into it,” said Goh.
“It did start to take some confidence from us, which gave them the confidence to go further. They started to delay our rhythm.”
Lu / Huang’s victory meant that they finally ended their title drought since Australia Open in June last year.
“I am very happy to win this tournament, it was a tough match and they played very well,” said Kai. “But the most important thing is that we won.”
“I think this is the fourth time that we have played here. When we first came here we were very young and we have always been looking towards winning a title here,” said Huang. “But to actually win it is such a surprise. I am so happy.”
Another set of first-time All England champions for the day were Korea’s Chang Ye Na / Lee Soo Hee. They overcame the Danish powerhouse duo Christina Pedersen / Kamilla Rytter Juhl, 21-18, 21-13.
Chang / Lee exhibited impressive defensive skills and did not drop a single game throughout the tournament.
“Since the Olympics, we didn’t have many chances to get proper training but instead we managed to get much more free time and much less burden on our shoulders,” said Chang. “It really helped us to enjoy playing again. I guess it’s one of the reasons of our good performance here.”
“I must admit it is a dream come true. I have watched this tournament so often on TV when I was younger and now here we are, winning the trophy. I just can’t believe it!” added the number four seed, who along with Lee, became the first Korean women’s doubles pair to win the title since 2008.
Markus Fernaldi Gideon / Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo were the next in line to share the glory of winning the oldest international badminton tournament in the world. Thanks to their relentless attacks, they beat sixth-seeded Li Junhui / Liu Yuchen in a fast-paced match, 21-19, 21-14.
“We are extremely happy. It’s such an extraordinary feeling, winning the All England,” said Gideon. “I didn’t expect this to happen so fast.”
After a close first game, the Indonesians then turned unstoppable in the second game, leaving the Chinese duo lagging the entire time.
“In the beginning, we couldn’t really find our rhythm, but then they started making unforced errors so we decided to pick up the pace and managed to lead all the way,” said Sukamuljo.
“It is such a special win for me. It’s been one of my dreams to win the All England title,” he added.
Tai Tzu Ying closed the tournament by creating history for herself, and her country. Tai lived up to her title as tournament favourite by beating the formidable Ratchanok Intanon, 21-16, 22-20.
The Thai leading shuttler, who also had an impressive run in the tournament, including beating Olympic champion Carolina Marin, once again let the title slip out of her hand. She had appeared once in the finals of All England in 2013, when she lost to Tine Baun of Denmark.
“It’s quite disappointing, but it was a really good match,” said Intanon. “I felt a little nervous, I played well, but Tai Tzu Ying was better.”
The Taiwanese world #1 simply played with a lot more confidence.
“I was very well prepared for this match. I did a lot of work on defence. I am very happy that in this match I had a quick start, unlike my game before,” said Tai.
World #1 Lee Chong Wei (pictured bottom) cruised through the final match against Shu Yuqi to clinch his fourth All England crown. The Chinese youngster was no match for the Malaysian veteran, who swiftly nabbed the title, 21-12, 21-10.
“When I decided to come – which was a very close decision – I never at all thought that I would win the title,” said Lee, who was referring to his concern over his left-knee injury. “Yes, I am very surprised. I came because it might be my last, and I just wanted to come and enjoy it.”
Riding on his joy of winning the title, Lee confirmed that he will be competing and entertaining the crowd again in All England 2018.
XD: Lu Kai / Huang Yaqiong (CHN)  beat Chan Peng Soon / Goh Liu Ying (MAS)  18-21, 21-19, 21-16
MS: Lee Chong Wei (MAS)  beat Shi Yuqi (CHN) 21-12, 21-10
WD: Chang Ye Na / Lee So Hee (KOR)  beat Kamilla Rytter Juhl / Christinna Pedersen (DEN)  21-18, 21-13
MD: Marcus Fernaldi Gideon / Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo (INA)  beat Li Junhui / Liu Yuchen (CHN)  21-19, 21-14
WS: Tai Tzu Ying (TPE)  beat Ratchanok Intanon (THA)  21-16, 22-20