The recently concluded first Super Series Badminton in Kuala Lumpur indicated that the other countries are closing the gap with China in terms of the standard of play, strategies and physical endurance especially on the players’ mental strength.
In as many badminton circuits over the world, the Chinese would most likely take 3 or maybe 4 titles, out of 5. But in certain specific tournaments toward the last stages of 2007 and in the Malaysian Open, the Chinese just fell short of the expected outcome. Though China is without its number 1 in the men singles – Lin Dan and women singles – Xie Xingfang, the results nevertheless proved that the other countries are closing the gap.
The exports of Chinese coaches to other countries and the studies undertaken by foreign coaches using video motion replay to analyze Chinese player’s weaknesses have been the main factors contributing to this sudden improvement in the standards of other players from around the world.
What is worrying to the Chinese must be the lack of promising young men’s players after Lin Dan and Bao Chunlai. Chen Yu should vary his strokes and learned from Lin Dan in order to make him a complete player, whose game will not be so predictable. Chen Jin and Gong Weiji, two players graduated from its base of young trainees, are inconsistent and cannot be relied upon in major tournaments. One persistent weakness among Chinese players was the inability to hold on to losing more points at the crucial moment to opposing players and this may prove crucial in a-21 point system where every point counts. What happened to the Chinese world’s youth champion, Chen Long and his other colleagues?
There is also no promising men doubles over the last 2-3 years other than Fu Haifeng and Cai Yun who can match the Malaysians, Koreans, Indonesian or the Danish veterans. Perhaps, the Chinese Badminton Association (CBA) need to re-look into the possibility of hiring reputable Indonesian doubles coaches who may be able to inject some new ideas and techniques into its perceived aggressive game play.
In the women singles, Xie Xingfang, as usual, will be depended to hit gold or score a crucial point in major tournament like the Olympics and the World Championship with the fading Zhang Ning who will most likely retire after the Beijing Olympics. The inconsistent Zhu Lin, Lu Lan and Jiang Yanjiao will be left to carry Chinese hopes into the future. Unless the Chinese women players can strengthen its inconsistent play and built more aggressive attacks into its game, we will be see more of other little Wong Mew Choos’ and Tine Rasmussens’ threatening its once dominant women’s position.
The women doubles and mixed doubles are two titles of which the Chinese can lay claim to being on top of the other countries except for some rare competition from the mixed doubles players from Indonesia and Thailand.
Losing in the Malaysian Open can act like an eye-opener to correct the many obvious mistakes in the preparation of the players and the detail planning towards major tournament like the Olympics and All England.
It is with fervent hope that the CBA will act fast by not falling further into complacency by undertaking various results oriented programs to strategize its game using proven techniques and cutting down the many unforced errors in its players game to ward off the real threat to its objective of securing a memorable feat in the coming Beijing Olympics, which is only 8 months away.
Now for the next immediate challenge, the Korean Badminton Open.