Safe bet: Ng Ka-long almost certain to make it to Rio but teammates must battle on
In-form shuttler is likely to represent Hong Kong at the Rio Olympics after reaching a career high world ranking of 12 following his victory over world number one Chen Long last week
Promising shuttler Angus Ng Ka-long is all but certain of booking his place in the Rio Olympics but it isn’t so clear cut for his Hong Kong teammates.
Ng hit a career high world ranking of 12 in men’s singles after reaching the Singapore Open semi-finals last week, which saw the 21-year-old defeat world number one Chen Long in the quarter-finals. Ng overcame the mainlander, one of the favourites for gold in men’s singles in Rio, in straight games, before losing to South Korea’s Son Wan-ho in the last four.
With just one tournament left for Olympic qualifying, Ng is unlikely to lose his spot.
But while Ng can begin preparations for the Summer Games happy in the knowledge that his Olympic spot is safe, his fellow teammates are struggling to get a second available ticket for Hong Kong.
Veteran Hu Yun dropped four places to 15 while Wei Nan is on 17th place. A team can send two shuttlers to Rio as long as they are both ranked in the world’s top 16.
“Ng should have little problem making it after some fine performances in the closing stages of the qualification but we are worried with the other two shuttlers’ ranking and whether they can qualify in the top 16,” said head coach Tim He Yiming on Thursday. “They must perform in the Asia Championships and also need to see how other shuttlers fare as well.”
Three continental championships – Asia, Oceania and Europe – will take place at the same time next week before the qualification closes and shuttlers from around the globe are making last-ditch efforts of reaching Rio.
Hu and Wei face stiff competition from Marc Zwiebler of Germany (14th), Hans-Kristian Vittinghus of Denmark (16th), Rajiv Ouseph of England (18th) and Lee Dong-keun of South Korea (19th) for a top 16 position.
There was only one men’s singles player from Hong Kong at the London Games four years ago but Wong Wing-ki, who is currently 27th, is already out of the contention for a second appearance.
In women’s singles, veteran Yip Pui-yin overtook youngster Cheung Ngan-yi in the latest rankings and could make her third straight Olympic appearance. Yip is currently ranked 32nd while Cheung is three places behind on 35. There is a difference of less than 200 points behind the two before they start their Asia Championships campaign in Wuhan next week. Although the top 16 players can send two players from a team, Yip could still qualify as one of the 38 players who fill the quota.
Lee Chun-hei and Chau Hoi-wah are safe with top 10 ranking in the mixed doubles, which will take the top 16 pairs in the Olympics while the future of women’s doubles pair Poon Lok-yan and Tse Ying-tse still hangs in the balance. Poon has been sidelined since December due to a knee problem but the duo is still eligible for Rio with a 12th place in qualifying before the Asia Championships but a Malaysian and German pair are hot on their heels.