Angry Li lashes out in wake of London scandal

Updated: 2012-09-18 01:54

By TANG ZHE (China Daily)

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Li Yongbo, the head coach of China's badminton national team, said the Badminton World Federation was careless when it ousted players for match-throwing at the London Olympics.

China's Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli, the women's doubles world No 1 pair, were disqualified along with another six female players on charges of "not using one's best efforts to win a match".

"It's too careless. I can't understand why they didn't let them play," Li said in an interview with China Central Television on Sunday.

"The BWF had never punished any player for match-throwing, even any slight punishment.

"When Indonesia and Malaysia played in the Thomas Cup, neither of them wanted to face the Chinese team, so they played the singles games with players who used to play doubles, and played the doubles games with singles players. Is this match-dumping?

"Of course the game is not enjoyable for spectators, and I know that. But you have never set any standard in the past, and there are problems in the rules, and others just made use of the loopholes in the rules.

"Usain Bolt doesn't run with full efforts in the last 20 meters — is that sloppy play? Soccer teams send substitutes to play after they qualify for the next round, is that match-throwing? I just took a little advantage of the rules.

Li said there is no use appealing again because the appeals have already been rejected by the BWF many times.

In an online vote on Sina Weibo, more than 1,300 participants supported Li as of 5 pm on Monday, while nearly 800 thought the tactic was wrong.

Li was hired as the national team's coach in 1993. Under him, the Chinese team has claimed 16 Olympic gold medals, and brought up 73 world champions.

Li is no stranger to controversy. He came under fire for requiring national players to concede defeat to teammates in order to help them win Olympic berths. He also likes to sit near the court during important games and shout at referees to put pressure on them.

Despite being labeled as arrogant and domineering, Li said his only goal is winning gold medals.

Playing with injuries, he took a bronze medal in the men's doubles with Tian Bingyi at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, the best Olympic result for the Chinese men's badminton team at the time. Li said the bronze was not considered that important at that Games.

"It's a blow to me," said Li, who retired after the 1992 Games. "Nobody cared about me when I returned with limping legs - it's too cruel. Only by standing on the championship podium can you be counted as being successful. If didn't win the championship, you are losing.

"The gold medal looks small, and the award ceremony is short, but what it can bring is tremendous, as great as you can imagine. First of all, it recognizes your work. More importantly, it means you have the right training and management systems, and people will follow your leadership.

"If you fail to win the gold, your work will come under scrutiny, you will doubt yourself, your players will doubt you, and the public will question you. If people keep hesitating between what is wrong and what is right, they can't find the right direction."

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