Tense wait: China’s shuttlers must endure painful delay on decision over who goes to Rio

With at least five players who have made top 16, team officials will finalise their two choices for the women’s singles on July 18

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 May, 2016, 1:03am
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 May, 2016, 1:00am

Top women’s players from China, including defending singles badminton champion Li Xuerui, will be forced to wait until the last moment before finding out whether they will go to the Rio Olympic Games.

China had five women’s singles players in the world’s top 16 when the one-year qualification period closed this month, but countries are only permitted to send two competitors.

Many people say Li and the two Wangs have the best chance of going and this is true
Chen Jin

Li, along with Wang Yihan, the losing finalist in London four years ago, Wang Shixian, Sun Yu and He Bingjiao are all possible picks after reaching the world’s top 16.

Coach Chen Jin said yesterday selectors had to consider all the possible factors before making a decision on who goes.

“The deadline for submitting the two names is July 18 and we will definitely wait until that last month before making a decision,” said the coach.

“Many people say Li and the two Wangs have the best chance of going and this is true but you cannot deny the opportunity of Sun and He as they have defeated the trio before.

“We will leave immediately for the Indonesia Open and other opens on the tour. We will have to consider all the international results of the players until July, especially their records against our major rivals.

“We are facing a more difficult situation than in London four years ago. On that occasion, we were able to send three singles players to the Games but it’s only two this time, meaning our winning chance has been reduced by 50 per cent.

“Also, we only had one or two major rivals in London but in Rio, we will face 10 to 16 major rivals.”

Wang Yihan, currently ranked third in the world, was not surprised by the tough internal competition.

“This is normal in team China and we always have to face strong competition from our teammates,” she said.

“It’s the dream of any player to go to the Olympics, especially to make a second appearance in a row if I get selected, but life still has to go on if I am not. Someone will be disappointed.”

Li agreed the mainland players were facing tough competition among themselves.

“Everyone wants to go, but only two will be selected,” said the 25-year-old defending champion, who has suffered with injury since snatching the gold medal in London. “I was like a white paper before going to London and now I am a much more mature player, and know more about the Games but the chance of winning remains difficult.”

World number one Carolina Marin of Spain, Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand, Nozomi Okuhara of Japan, Sania Nehwal of India and Sung Jihyun of South Korea, are all set to challenge the mainlanders in Rio.