Close race for BWF Player of the Year Awards

The BWF made the obvious choices for 2018 Player of the Year candidates, naming the big winners in all five categories, including mixed doubles World Champions Huang Yaqiong and Zheng […]

The made the obvious choices for 2018 Player of the Year candidates, naming the big winners in all five categories, including mixed doubles World Champions Huang Yaqiong and Zheng Siwei in separate categories.

Photos: Badmintonphoto

The Badminton World Federation (BWF) announced on Friday its candidates for all 6 of its year end awards, to be given out at the gala dinner preceding the in Guangzhou on Monday.  It was an easy choice for the candidates this year as all 5 world #1 players and pairs had racked up an impressive list of wins on the year, ranging from 6 to 9 major titles, with the top of the table for all five disciplines including either a World or Asian Champion or an Asian Games gold medallist.

There are far fewer candidates this year, which is natural in a year when titles were as concentrated as they have been in 2018.  2017 candidate Tai Tzu Ying is the only singles player nominated for Female Player of the Year this year.  She has won 8 titles in 2018, including the Asian Games and the Asian Championships, to which she added 5 on the .  Women’s doubles world #1 Yuki Fukushima / Sayaka Hirota also won the continental title, along with 5 more victories on the World Tour.

Japan’s is the only singles player nominated for Male Player of the Year, on the strength of his 4 BWF World Tour wins, as well as having become both Asian and World Champion.  Last year’s winners Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo and Marcus Fernaldi Gideon, who won a whopping 8 World Tour titles this year, on top of Asian Games gold, are a good bet to take the honours for a second straight year.  The last player to do that was Chen Long in 2014-2015, although Lee Chong Wei won the for the 5th time just two years ago.

Two mixed doubles players have been nominated a second time.  World #1 Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong were both nominated for Player of the Year last year for their respective genders, just a few weeks after they teamed up as a pair, but now one year on, they have a proven partnership and have been the most dominant players in any discipline.  They were the only ones to win both the World and Asian Games titles and with an impressive collection of World Tour victories, they matched Sukamuljo/Gideon’s mark of 9 major titles for the year.

Malaysia’s Goh Jin Wei is the only candidate for Eddie Choong Most Promising Player of the Year who was eligible for events in 2018.  Goh, who won both the Youth Olympic Gold and her second World Championship title, will have to beat out two Indonesian players who were nominated last year as well: Gregoria Mariska and Apriyani Rahayu.

Mariska and Goh are the only two teenagers nominated for the award, which has been given to a girls’ singles player 6 of the 10 times since its inception.  However, Rahayu and the three 20-year-old men – He Jiting and doubles pair Han Chengkai / Zhou Haodong – all won BWF World Tour titles in 2018.

There is also the possibility of an award for Most Improved Player of the Year.  Korea Open winner He Jiting is also a candidate in that department, as are World Champions Mayu Matsumoto / Wakana Nagahara, Asian Games gold medallist Anthony Ginting, Hyderabad Super 100 winners Satwiksairaj Rankireddy/Chiraj Shetty, and Korea’s Seo Seung Jae, who won titles in two disciplines this year and reached his first Super 750 final.

The Para-Badminton Players of the Year will also be awarded on Monday.  This year, all new winners are expected once again and judging will be made trickier by the fact that the biennial World Para-Badminton Championships were not held in 2018.

In the male category, the candidates are Lucas Mazur of France, Cheah Liek Hou of Malaysia, and England’s Jack Shephard.  Asian Para Games double-gold medallist Leani Ratri Oktila (pictured right) of Indonesia is the only winner from the Jakarta event who is nominated for Female Para-Badminton Players of the Year but she is up against two other Asians: Sujirat Pookkham of Thailand and Japan’s Yuma Yamazaki.

The ‘Night of Nights’ and Gala Dinner will be held in Guangzhou on Monday evening.

Click here to see the complete report from the BWF website

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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