Booted out of the Games, Yu Yang quits badminton

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 August, 2012, 10:54pm


Chinese Olympic badminton champion Yu Yang says she is quitting the sport after being disqualified from the London Games in a match-throwing scandal.

'This is my last competition. Goodbye Badminton World Federation, goodbye my beloved badminton,' Yu, 26, wrote on her microblog.

Yu and her playing partner Wang Xiaoli were among four women's doubles teams disqualified for trying to lose their final matches in the round robin stage of the competition to secure more favourable opponents in later knockout rounds.

The federation made the ruling on Wednesday after accusing the Chinese women, an Indonesian duo and two South Korean pairs of failing to play to their best ability.

Yu's announcement came as Chinese officials ordered its team to apologise.

'I don't believe she made decisions by herself' about the outcome of the match, Yu's mother told local media.

Yu's partner, Wang, said on her microblog account that players were being made to pay the price for flaws in the new rules.

Yu said through her accredited Tencent Weibo account the decision had 'heartlessly shattered our dreams'.

Yu took gold in the women's doubles at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 with another partner, and she and Wang were widely regarded as the best players in badminton doubles. Head coach Li Yongbo made a public apology through Xinhua, saying the behaviour of his team reflected the shortcomings of the new rules but emphasised that was no excuse.

'We didn't strive with all our might in the Olympic way,' Li said. 'As chief coach, I really feel I must say sorry to fans and viewers nationwide.'

The International Olympic Committee has asked the national delegations of China, South Korea and Indonesia to investigate the role of their coaches in the scandal.

'We want to see a positive result for the sport in the Olympics. And now we make sure they [the three national Olympic committees] also consider the entourage, to make sure it is not just the athletes who are punished for this,' committee spokesman Mark Adams said at briefing yesterday.

Chinese player Ye Zhaoying said after the 2000 Olympics she had to throw a match against teammate Gong Zhichao because Li believed Gong had a better chance of defeating Denmark's Camilla Martin in the final. Ye retired after the game.

The disqualification was debated heatedly in the mainland media. Xinhua said the game was shameful, using the word 'disgrace' in its headline with an exclamation mark - a combination normally used to criticise the men's soccer team.

'This could be the gloomiest day ever in Chinese Olympics history,' Xiaoxiang Morning Herald in Hunan said in its full-page article about the scandal. 'The Chinese badminton team has disgraced the Olympic spirit for the sake of one gold medal. But they were dumped by the medal, by the Olympics and dumped by the whole world.'

Some media mocked the game as an amateur show. The Beijing News quoted Russian actor Constantin Stanislavski's renowned book An Actor Prepares, suggesting Chinese players take acting classes before games. 'The game was so poor and their acting skills were terrible. The audiences had to jeer at their performance to stop the play,' the editorial said.

'The play was a bomb,' the Metropolis Times in Yunnan said in a front-page headline, along with a drawing of stained Olympic rings. 'Our team respects the Olympic spirit as rubbish,' it said.

But there was also widespread sympathy for the athletes. Some commentators said the round-robin arrangements gave players an incentive to lose a match so they could face opponents deemed easier to beat during the elimination stage.

Bai Yansong, a popular TV anchor, complained about the rules on his news show.

He said he was 'very, very sorry and even angry' about the rulings and it would be 'stupid and brainless' if the athletes had played their best and then lost to compatriots in the next round.

About 47 per cent of nearly 520,000 internet users canvassed by the Sina news portal said they supported the disqualification, with less than 30 per cent disagreeing.

'What a shame. Tomorrow I want to tell my friends that I'm not a Chinese,' one person from London said in response to the survey.