OLYMPICS MS Preview – What’s your point of view?

How much motivation would China’s Lin Dan have for acquiring another major accolade? How much desire does Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei have to be Olympic or World Champion? These are […]

How much motivation would China’s Lin Dan have for acquiring another major accolade? How much desire does Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei have to be Olympic or World Champion? These are valid questions four years on from their Beijing Olympic finals clash which was rather one-sided in favour of the Chinese.

By Aaron Wong, Badzine Correspondent.  Photos: Badmintonphoto

So much happens in an hour

Of the five badminton disciplines, the top of the pile of men’s singles is the most stagnant.  It is truly remarkable how advanced the skills of Lin Dan (pictured) and Lee Chong Wei are ahead of their contemporaries, and how consistent they have been.  The thing is, sometimes badminton is reduced to the marketing hype and there isn’t much that hasn’t been said about this rivalry.

The , however, is about showcasing badminton amongst other sports.  Unlike tennis, the outcome of a badminton men’s singles match is normally known within an hour or at most ninety minutes.  It all unfolds and results that quickly.  There is no plural for hours required.

What happens within the hour is extraordinary when you consider that more often than not a change of plan or two needs to be tested and implemented for the opponent that is lagging.  Badminton singles players have to come up with these plot changes or solutions (depending whether you are the one watching or playing) swiftly and that is so much of the appeal of this sport.  It is an intense drama and where the women’s game in a way teach spectators about this sport, the men’s dazzles and entertains.

The Olympic draw

From the Danish point of view, the draw is as favourable as it could possibly be.  The thirty-five-year-old legend Peter Gade (pictured) would be giving himself a decent chance of topping his Olympic quarter for the fourth straight time, in the process granting spectators several days of enjoying watching his pioneering shot-making as well as sportsmanship par excellence.

Especially as this will be his last major appearance on English soil, Olympic crowds appreciating such a performance should mark a welcome contrast to the empty stadium reception during his first round defeat in the wee hours of his last All England.

In the past three Olympics, Gade has only been beaten by the eventual gold medallist.  However, to go far in London, Gade first needs to overcome India Open Superseries champion Shon Wan Ho and then meditate on how to oust China’s Chen Long, unless Boonsak Ponsana (pictured above right), winner of the last pre-Olympic Superseries event, kindly accomplishes that job for him first in their preliminary group – which is also a possibility.

Gade is in the top half of the draw and Jan O Jorgensen in the bottom half.  Jorgensen will have enjoyed a good warm-up against Derek Wong of Singapore in preparation to meet a former world number one from Korea, followed by another from China.

Indonesians drew short straw

The Indonesian outlook is dire.  Simon Santoso (pictured right with Taufik Hidayat) will meet top seed Lee Chong Wei early in a round-of-16 clash between winners of Groups A and B, while the most famous backhander Taufik Hidayat’s round-of-16 date is with the most famous lefthander Lin Dan, who is seeded second.  Needless to say, both are very difficult campaigns.

Although Santoso has rarely beaten Lee, the question of “might” looms large because the pundits will be wondering about how well Lee’s ankle has recovered from the injury at the Thomas Cup.  This particular match-up will be on high focus because Santoso is able to display a great deal of variation in his skills and speed during a game and Lee can definitely count on being made to scramble on this occasion.


Lee Hyun Il and Chen Jin shaking hands at the Korea Grand Prix Gold 2011 in Hwasun © Don Hearn for Badzine

Nor can one jump ahead to Taufik’s knockout-round opponents without considering that he is grouped together with Spain’s Pablo Abian, the man who spent his last summer vacation ousting Marc Zwiebler from the Worlds, just a month after the German had beaten Taufik in Canada.

Beijing bronze medal grudge match

Korea’s top man, Lee Hyun Il, is anticipating another Olympics clash against China’s Chen Jin (both pictured left), who beat him to the bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics.  The fruition of such a grudge match depends on both Asians stamping their authority over their very capable European opponents, Jorgensen and Marc Zwiebler respectively, as soon as they leave the preliminary round blocks.

Barring injury, it is difficult to imagine anything rocking the status quo in the category of men’s singles given the buzz surrounding the Lee Chong Wei-Lin Dan rivalry.  The interesting question then becomes who will the London bronze medallist?  It may well be the outcome of a Danish clash.

Preliminary round encounters of note:
Group D: Nguyen Tien Minh (VIE, pictured right) [10] vs Kashyap Parupalli (IND)
Group E: Chen Long (CHN) [3] vs Boonsak Ponsana (THA)
Group H: Shon Wan Ho (KOR) [13] vs Hsu Jen Hao (TPE)
Group M: Rajiv Ouseph (ENG) [15] vs Kevin Cordon (GUA)
Group O: Taufik Hidayat (INA) [11], Pablo Abian (ESP), Petr Koukal (CZE)

For more information, visit the official website for the London Olympics

Results and draws available on tournamentsoftware

Aaron Wong

About Aaron Wong

Aaron Wong only ever coveted badminton's coolest shot - a reverse backhand clear. He is renowned for two other things: 1) Writing tournament previews that adjust the focus between the panorama of the sport's progress, down to the microscopic level of explaining the striking characteristics of players; 2) Dozing off during men's doubles at the London Olympic Games. Contact him at: aaron @ badzine.net