Chinese shuttlers gearing up for Tokyo Olympics

Ma Yue
Chinese shuttlers are "competitive" in all categories but the lack of international competition is a major challenge ahead of this year's Olympics, China's badminton chief says.
Ma Yue
Chinese shuttlers gearing up for Tokyo Olympics
Ti Gong

From left: Chinese shuttlers Zheng Siwei, Chen Yufei, Huang Yaqiong, and Shi Yuqi pose wearing the national team’s new outfit in Shanghai on Wednesday.

China’s badminton national team is “competitive” in all categories but the lack of international competition remains a major challenge in preparation for this year’s Olympic Games, according to China Badminton Association President Zhang Jun.

Zhang, along with national players Zheng Siwei, Huang Yaqiong, Shi Yuqi and Chen Yufei, were in Shanghai on Wednesday to witness the signing of a new sponsorship deal between the Chinese national team and Yonex. The Japanese sports equipment maker will be providing sportswear, kit and equipment for the team for the next eight years.

Zhang said the national team has been organizing intra-team competitions to maintain players’ form as they get ready for the Games, which kick off in Japan in four months' time.

“Due to travel restrictions caused by the (COVID-19) pandemic, the national team missed one Olympic ranking competition in Switzerland. It might have affected the players’ world ranking a bit, but won’t affect our Olympic entry qualification,” Zhang revealed.

“The only pity is that we couldn’t observe our foreign opponents at close quarters,” he added. “We haven't set a specific goal (for medals), but I can say that the national team is competitive in all categories. The result will depend on players’ performance.”

The prolonged preparation for the delayed Olympic Games has served Shi, the men's runner-up at the 2018 world championships, well. The 25-year-old suffered an ankle injury in 2019, and the postponement of the Games gave him more time to recover.

“I benefited from the prolonged preparation, and have already adjusted to a proper form for the Games,” said Shi, one of China’s most promising singles players following the retirement of the legendary Lin Dan.

According to doubles player Zheng, who is also the national team captain, the players have been using the latest products provided by Yonex since last month.

“Apart from high-tech featured equipment, we are also receiving professional service and support from Yonex,” said Zheng. “Due to lack of international matches, it’s not easy to measure the gap between us and our foreign opponents. We will concentrate on adjusting our competitive form.”

Yonex will also communicate individually with the team’s top players and tailor equipment, including rackets, for them to achieve their best performance.

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