POLL – Who will earn double tickets to Rio?

Four months remain in the Olympic badminton qualifying period and several players stand the chance of qualifying in not one, but two disciplines.  Which shuttlers do you think will end […]

Four months remain in the Olympic badminton qualifying period and several players stand the chance of qualifying in not one, but two disciplines.  Which shuttlers do you think will end up in possession of such double tickets when the rankings come out in May?

Photos: Badmintonphoto

Looking at the year-end rankings for the Race to Rio, five players are slated to represent their national Olympic committees in two disciplines.  As expected, all of them are doubles players but two singles players could also end up qualifying for two, with some strong performances in 2016, as well as a little help from the continental qualifying system.

Late 2015 saw a few developments in terms of the double qualifiers.  Ma Jin had been in the top eight in both doubles disciplines but in November, she slipped to 3rd among Chinese mixed doubles pairs and then in December, she and Tang Yuanting, who actually disbanded several months ago, finally were squeezed out of the top 8, leaving only one Chinese pair tentatively qualified in women’s doubles.  At the other end of the spectrum, double Pan Am Games gold medallist Phillip Chew (pictured above) added mixed doubles to his collection of Rio tickets.

The current quintet of doubles players including only three top ten players, Zhang Nan of China, Denmark’s Christinna Pedersen, and Selena Piek of the Netherlands.  Piek is #7 in women’s doubles but only #13 in mixed, while Zhang and Pedersen are in the top 8 in both.  Michael Fuchs is a member of Germany’s only tentatively qualified men’s and mixed pairs and Chew of the United States has the continental spot in both of those disciplines.

At least another half dozen players have realistic shots at adding a second ticket but only three of these would be at the top of the table.  London’s only double gold medallist in badminton, Zhao Yunlei, is currently #1 in mixed doubles and with five tournaments in hand, she is expected to shoot up through the standings in women’s doubles as well.  However, even once she and Tian Qing gain entry to the top 8, she will have to stay ahead of two other Chinese pairs.

Korea’s Ko Sung Hyun is already in the top 8 in both men’s and mixed doubles but in the former, he and Shin Baek Cheol (pictured) are still trailing behind two pairs of compatriots, Lee/Yoo and Kim/Kim, who are #1 and #5 respectively.  Shin, meanwhile, is not yet qualified in either discipline but is knocking on the door of the top 8 in mixed doubles, at #10 but with a large point spread.

Three more players could get in twice with continental spots.  Hadia Hosny and Abdelrahman Kashkal (pictured) are currently in possession of the African spot in mixed doubles but Hosny is actually less than 1000 points behind the last non-continental qualifier in women’s singles and could well make up that ground.  Kashkal is part of the 2nd-ranked African men’s doubles pair but were he and Ali Ahmed El Khateeb to recapture it, Egypt would have to choose 2 from among three continental spots.

Lohaynny Vicente (pictured bottom) of host Brazil is not tentatively qualified in any discipline at the moment but she is only a few hundred points behind her compatriot Fabiana Silva in women’s singles.  She and her sister Luana are well back of the current top Pan American women’s doubles pair but should Badminton USA choose to drop Eva Lee and Paula Lynn Obanana in favour of their men’s and mixed pairs, who are also tentatively in with continental spots, then the Vicente sisters would be next in line.

It is worth noting that the Olympic qualifying race is still technically wide open.  Theoretically, as long as a player or pair is ranked high enough to qualify, with four Superseries and seven Grand Prix Gold events remaining before the cutoff, a record-breaking winning streak could yield a maximum of 82,400 points even for a pair with no impressive results so far.

Please cast your vote in the below, choosing as many as five players who you think could be double qualifiers come May.  We also invite you to explain your choices in the comment section at the bottom of the page.

[poll id=”36″]

Players currently tentatively qualified are marked with an asterisk (*)

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