Who will Strike GOLD!!!!

Who will Strike GOLD!!!!

The much anticipated Tokyo Olympics will get going this Friday, the 23rd of July. And for all the badminton fanatics, the men’s singles clash will be a show stopper. With Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei announcing retirements, the draw is open to all.

China has been the most successful country winning a total of 18 medals since badminton was first consolidated into the Olympic games in 1992. Chinese players have dominated the men’s singles section, winning Gold from the last 3 Olympics, 2008, 2012 & 2016. Taufik Hidayat was the last non-Chinese player to win Gold, and that was 16 years ago at the 2004 Athens Olympics. The legacy of Chinese badminton lies with the reigning Olympic medalist Chen Long and Shi Yu Qi.

With Chen Long nearing his retirement, this year’s draw in some ways is open and spectacular with the players in top form. The prominent players to look out for are Kento Momota, Viktor Axelsen & Lee Zii Jia. All of whom have come through some sort of physical and mental setbacks in the last 20 months.

Kento Momota

The world no.1 was in a league of his own when he was met with an unfortunate car accident when he was returning home after winning the Malaysian Open in January 2020. This incident made him contemplate the idea of retiring from the game. But his unbending attitude got him back on the court in March for the All England Championships. Before this accident, Momota had a record-setting 2019 where he won 11 titles and a jaw-dropping 67 wins in 73 matches.

Viktor Axelsen

World no.2 went through a few ankle surgeries in the last 3 years. The first of his surgeries were in 2018 when he was forced out of Indonesia Masters in the second round due to an ankle injury. He missed the prestigious All England championships due to which his second surgery was in September 2020. But each time the injury forced him to set away from the game, the Danish superstar came back stronger. Between his 2 surgeries, Viktor displayed some terrific form reaching 7 finals and winning 4 of them. In the recent past, the Dane has won 3 titles out of 5 major tournaments organized by Badminton World Federation.

Chen Long

Former world no.1 and the only returning Olympic medalist at the 2021 games. A player who has won everything that the badminton champions had to offer. In the last couple of years, the Chinese champion has not seen the results that one would expect from a player like him. The best was him winning the French Open out of the 3 finals he appeared in. With age not on his side, Chen Long will be a handful for any player on his best day.

Lee Zii Jia

The man who is soldering on the hopes of a nation that’s been expecting Gold from 2008. Lee Zii Jia had an impressive 2018 as he reached 2 BWF world tour finals and won 1. 2019 and 2020 are the years the Malaysian wants to forget, as the farthest he went in any tournament was the quarter-finals at the World Championships. What put him back onto the main league and as a contender for the gold medal was his match against the world no.2 Viktor Axelsen at the All England Championships. A marathon of a match that went on for 1hr 18mins with Lee winning the match 30–29, 20–22, 21–9.

The other names in the draw that can show up are Anders Antonsen, Chou Tien Chen, Anthony Sinisuka Ginitng, and NG Ka Long Angus. Whatever happens in this Olympics, the battles for the gold will be intense and entertaining.