Game's in a healthy state, says Wang
Updated: 2013-04-18 05:32
By Sun Xiaochen (China Daily)
Many pundits believe China's supremacy in badminton is seriously hurting the game's global popularity.
However, a former world No 1 shuttler doesn't buy into that argument at all.
Wang Xin, the 2010 Asian Games champion and a 2011 Sudirman Cup winning team member, said during the launch of the 2013 Red Bull Amateur Badminton Tournament that she does not fear the game's appeal will decline due to China's strangehold at major events.
"According to my experience playing in different countries around the world, I see packed stadiums and fully-booked public courts everywhere," said Wang, who withdrew from the bronze-medal final at the London Olympics due to a knee injury when she led 21-18, 1-0 against Indian Saina Nehwal.
"The participation and enthusiasm among amateurs is impressive everywhere in Asia and Europe. I have not seen interest drop - like the media predict - because of China's overwhelming performances."
Boasting a deep talent pool, China achieved a sweep of all five titles in London, which further raised concerns that the game's future and its Olympic prospects would be in jeopardy due to the imbalanced competition.
Since the sport's Olympic debut in 1992, Asia has claimed 28 of 29 gold medals; Dane Poul Larsen won the men's gold at the 1996 Atlanta Games.
The event's elite tournaments, including the Sudirman Cup, the world mixed team championship, are consistently staged in Asia to draw better attendances, greater sponsorship and more TV coverage.
Still, Wang, who reached the world No 1 ranking in September 2010, believes the rest of the world won't lose interest.
"You can't make the quick judgment that other countries will give (badminton) up because China is doing great. There are a lot of up-and-coming youngsters in Europe and we can't relax at all because they are chasing hard," said Wang, who plans to make her return from injury in June.
Wang's faith is borne out by the popularity of the Red Bull event.
More than 50,000 amateur players have registered to play the grass-roots tournament, which will reach 163 cities in four divisions over the next three months.
After the two-month preliminary phase, 64 teams will advance to the divisional playoffs in June before the top four slug it out at the national finals in July.
'Super Dan' slams BWF over heavy schedule
Two-time Olympic champion shuttler Lin Dan, dubbed "Super Dan", has complained that the BWF's current event calendar is too heavy for players to remain in top shape.
"It wasn't made from the players' standpoint (but for the sponsors)," Lin said before the Asian Championships served off on Tuesday. "There are hundreds of different level tournaments on the calendar. If you want to keep you rankings high enough to qualify for big events like the Worlds, you have to play almost 20 events every year. That's too exhausting."
Lin even cited Indonesian star Taufik Hidayat's retirement as an example of how the overloaded schedule has worn down the passion of players.
(China Daily 04/18/2013 page23)