2 repeat champions on each of 3 continents!

Asia, Europe and Pan America all held their continental championships last week and each continent ended up with exactly two repeat champions and a few exciting comebacks. Photos: Badmintonphoto Last […]

Asia, Europe and Pan America all held their last week and each continent ended up with exactly two repeat champions and a few exciting comebacks.

Photos: Badmintonphoto

Last year, England was a surprise leader at the European Badminton Championships with two titles, the men’s singles in particular coming as a surprise.  This year, Rajiv Ouseph was still ranked #21 in the world, as he had been last April, but he was the defending champion and could not sneak up on opponents any more.  Actually, in 2017, Ouseph was seeded 2nd despite having 4 Europeans ranked above him and this year he was the 3rd seed and had 2 Europeans ahead of him.  Regardless, the Englishman made his way back to the final and it took a World Champion to keep him from the title, as he fell to Viktor Axelsen (pictured) in two short games.

England did take the title in mixed doubles, with Chris and Gabrielle Adcock (pictured) following up their title defense at the Commonwealth Games with another at the continental level.  They once again denied two-time winner Christinna Pedersen a return to the top, but this time, it was her new partner Mathias Christiansen who settled with her for silver.

Pedersen did not compete in women’s doubles, where she was the four-time defending champion, and Bulgaria’s Stoeva sisters capitalized, adding this continental title to their European Games gold from 2015.  Like Pedersen, compatriots Mads Kolding and Mads Conrad had to settle for silver for a second straight year, but they were unable to finish the final and ceded victory to a different pair of team-mates this year, as Anders Skaarup-Rasmussen and Kim Astrup took their first continental title.  Carolina Marin was the other repeat winner, taking a quick one against Evgeniya Kosetskaya of Russia

#1s of future and past

In the , the mixed doubles final featured the current world #1 pair against the pair that will finally overtake them in a few days.  Two-time World Champion Tontowi Ahmad will finally ascend to the #1 position on Thursday for the first time in his career but he and Liliyana Natsir, who have played together for nearly 8 years, were unable to take back the title they last won in 2015.

Instead, Wang Yilyu and Huang Dongping (pictured) – who just last Thursday lost the world #1 status they only held for 2 weeks – beat the Indonesians in straight games to take the continental title.  They will hold steady at world #2 as the now-disbanded Zheng Siwei and Chen Qingchen slowly continue their descent off the top ranker table.

China took two titles on the day, as Wang and Huang were followed up by a repeat performance by Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen.  The Chinese twin towers got the better of Japan’s Kamura/Sonoda in 2 of the 3 one-sided games in the men’s doubles final.  Tai Tzu Ying was the other repeat champion on the day, narrowly denying China a third title by edging out youngster Chen Yufei in two very close games.  It was Tai’s 8th straight victory over the Chinese 20-year-old in just 13 months but things are getting any easier for the world #1 as she had to save a game point in the second to prevent the match going to a decider.

Japan was assured of the women’s doubles title going in but the big win for them came from (pictured right).  Less than a year into his comeback from a one-year hiatus, Momota followed up his ousting of Lee Chong Wei by denying Chen Long a repeat title.  Not only did he score his first ever victories against ageing veterans Lee and Chen, but Momota had already dispatched the reigning All England champion and the leader in the earlier rounds.  He will definitely be a force to reckon with as the season progresses, particularly in the Thomas Cup; however, he has lost his ability to be a secret weapon in Bangkok, as the world rankings on Thursday will place him as the top Japanese men’s singles player.

Pan Am repeats: 2 + 2

In the Pan Am Badminton Championships, Ygor Coelho repeated as men’s singles champion – once again the only non-Canadian to top a podium – but Jason Anthony Ho-Shue and Nyl Yakura were the only Canadians who repeated their exact 2017 feat.  However, Rachel Honderich, denied this time in women’s singles by her sometime doubles partner Michelle Li (pictured), did manage to take gold in the women’s doubles with Kristin Tsai.  Josephine Wu, meanwhile, may have been denied but Tsai and Honderich, but she managed to come out on top in mixed doubles with Ty Alexander Lindeman, who was the only first-time continental champion on the day in Guatemala.

In addition to the repeat winners, Canada’s Michelle Li was able to come back to take her first continental title since she won Pan Am Games gold in 2015.  Including her two single and one doubles gold in the Games, this marks her sixth continental title.  It was an even longer wait, though, for her compatriot Kristen Tsai.  Her last continental title was in 2012, when she won the women’s singles title and she spent a full 4 years – between the 2013 and 2017 Canada Opens – away from international competition.

Follow the following links for complete results from the Badminton Asia Championships, the European Badminton Championships, and the Pan Am Badminton Championships

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Don Hearn

About Don Hearn

Don Hearn is an Editor and Correspondent who hails from a badminton-loving town in rural Canada. He joined the Badzine team in 2006 to provide coverage of the Korean badminton scene and is committed to helping Badzine to promote badminton to the place it deserves as a global sport. Contact him at: don @ badzine.net