Fierce battle to make Rio Olympics for Hong Kong’s badminton stars
Four are fighting for the men’s singles berths, but only two can make it ... and even then, they have to be ranked in the world’s top 16 by early May
The four Hong Kong badminton players in the men’s singles striving to reach the Rio Olympic Games will be given an equal chance in qualifiers – but only two of them can make it.
And even then, they have to be in the world’s top 16 by early May when the qualifying period ends.
World No 12 Hu Yun leads the local assault with teammates Wei Nan (world No 15) and Ng Ka-long (No 16) keeping the pressure on. Wong Wing-ki, who competed at the London Games in 2012, has a world ranking of 28.
“They will be given the same playing opportunity over the next two months and in the end whoever has achieved the highest ranking will get the Olympic tickets,” said coach Tim He Yiming.
“Had it not been for the qualification, we would have sent them to different tournaments but for the sake of fairness they will all compete in the six remaining major tournaments, beginning with the German Open next week.”
The five other events are the All England Open, India Open, Malaysia Open, Singapore Open and the Asia Championships.
“They are all ready for the challenge as the qualification has reached the crucial stage. Every tournament is now important for ranking points,” said the coach.
There will be 38 players in each of the two singles events in Rio and 16 pairs in each of the three doubles competitions.
Lee Chun-hei and Chau Hoi-wah, currently ninth in the mixed doubles rankings, have their Rio tickets booked, but a top-eight ranking would be preferable.
Only the top eight pairs are seeded in Rio, which is important if they want to reach the next stage,” said He.
Cheung Ngan-yi, currently ranked 25 in the women’s singles, is another possible candidate but she has to hold off the challenge from two-time Olympian Yip Pui-yin, who is ranked five places behind.
In the women’s doubles, injured Poon Lok-yan is expected to be back in action in late March and has one month to secure an Olympic place with partner Tse Ying-suet. The duo currently rank 20.