Chinese badminton squads are aiming to claim titles at the upcoming BWF Thomas & Uber Cup in Bangkok, Thailand from May 20-27.
The Thomas Cup and the Uber Cup tournaments both feature 16 teams divided into four groups. China is drawn into Group A in the Thomas Cup, along with India, Australia and France.
The current Olympic champion, world No. 4 shuttler Chen Long and two-time Olympic winner Lin Dan will lead the men’s singles along with newly-crowned New England champions Shi Yuqi and Qiao Bin.
Chinese badminton head coach, Xia Xuanze, who is also former world champion, admitted that Chen and Lin are not at their peak times.
“Lin has extensive experience in international games with strong capability for self-adjustment. He is still a very competitive player. Even though Chen didn’t perform well after winning the gold medal at Rio Olympics, he has been improving since last year. ”
Compared with the men’s team, women’s team are facing more challenges. The defending champions hope they can lift the trophy for the 15th time in the Uber Cup.
Former world No.1 and 2012 London Olympics gold medalist Li Xuerui will make a surprise return after serious knee injury in August 2016, who had been out of competition since then but managed to win a BWF World Tour 100 event just last month.
Xia Xuanze hoped Li could bolster the team’s defense. “Female players lack back bones who possess experience in major international tournaments at the moment. I hope Li can lead the team and show others how to play team matches well.”
Three youth prospects: Chen Yufei, He Bingjiao and Gao Fangjie are among the women’s team, which is in Group D with France, Indonesia and Malaysia.
China’s dominance in badminton had been fundamentally challenged during the past three years, but it is still a formidable one without any doubt with advanced ideas and techniques, according to Chinese badminton commentator Liang Yan, adding that the Chinese Team is in a transitional period when the young replace the old.
He believes that the Chinese team’s biggest rival is not others but themselves. When fully prepared mentally, the Chinese team could win the games.
Young players emerged in international arena
China is not only the team in the championships that will field a relatively young squad. With top seeds like PV Sindhu and Srikanth Kidambi being rested, Team India will be led by Saina and Prannoy at 2018 Thomas & Uber Cup.
Thomas Cup champions Denmark, which made history two years ago marking the first by a European nation, face big losses this time, as their doubles ace, Carsten Mogensen, who missed the 2016 edition following surgery for a brain aneurysm, is said to be ill again.
Still, world No. 2 women’s doubles pair Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl have also decided to withdraw from the Denmark squad.
The trend also goes to Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand to train young talents, as audience are expected to see a number of fresh faces.
New score system to be voted
Just one day ahead of the Thomas & Uber Cup, Badminton World Federation is scheduled to discuss and vote at its Annual General Meeting in Bangkok to decide whether to change the current scoring system 21×3 into 11×5, to shorten the time of matches and create more excitement.
The current scoring format was introduced in 2006, but 11×5 system has been experimenting since 2014 in various tournaments.
The new system will have opposite impact on players. As Malaysian legendary shuttler Lee Chong Wei, who is in favor of the change, once said, “If this takes place, I am definitely certain that I can participate in 2020 Tokyo Olympics. For me and Lin Dan, 11 points means shorter games to counter our physical weakness. It will postpone my retirement age.”
However, for those slow-type shuttlers who cannot come into themselves right after the game, the new system could be an adversity.
It is also believed the change of system will make a hard time for A-listers to adapt to for the next Olympics in 2020, which is only two years away.