Thursday, March 28, 2013

Hosts Happy with Li Ning BWF Sudirman Cup Draw; China Ready to Defend Title

Hosts Malaysia were in optimistic spirits after this morning’s Li Ning BWF Sudirman Cup 2013 draw, pitting them against Germany and Chinese Taipei in the opening round-robin stage of competition.
Both coaches and players attending the proceedings in Kuala Lumpur declared they will be targeting a quarter-final or better performance in the World Mixed Team Championship to be held at Putra Indoor Stadium in May.
The tournament’s joint No. 3 seeds were placed in Group 1C and the European champions and Chinese Taipei subsequently joined them as the draw progressed. Title holders and top seeds China – bidding for an unprecedented ninth victory in the biennial event – are in Group 1A along with Indonesia and India.
Group 1B features Thailand (also joint No. 3 seeds), Korea and Hong Kong while Group 1D has No. 2 seeds Denmark, Japan and Singapore.
“This draw is very good for Malaysia and we will be looking to get into the quarter-finals,” said Malaysia’s Head Singles Coach, Rashid Sidek. His colleague and Head Doubles Coach, Tan Kim Her, agreed and noted it will be important to do well in their Doubles matches to ensure they advance from the group phase.
Mixed Doubles players, Goh Liu Ying and Chan Peng Soon, were also smiling at the outcome of the draw as was Men’s Singles specialist, Liew Daren. The trio said playing in front home fans should be a help rather than a hindrance.
“We don’t think there will be pressure. There should be more support for us,” reasoned Goh.
Meanwhile, China’s Head Coach Li Yongbo reacted to the draw in nonchalant fashion, stating: “It does not matter who we play. We will try our best to defend our title.”
That defence begins at noon versus India on the first day of the tournament Sunday 19 May. On the adjoining court, Malaysia face Chinese Taipei.
In Group 2A, Russia, USA, Sweden and Scotland will do battle while the Netherlands, France, Canada and Austria will fight for honours in Group 2B.
Ukraine, New Zealand, Turkey and Sri Lanka are in Group 3A and Switzerland, Vietnam, Australia and Lithuania are in Group 3B.
Group 4 only has three teams South Africa, Philippines and Kazakhstan.
A total of 31 teams will compete in this year’s tournament.
N.B. Countries listed according to outcome of the draw.
For further information on the Li Ning BWF Sudirman Cup 2013 draw, please click here.

Olympic and World Junior Stars Lead Nominations for BWF 2012 Player Awards

Some of badminton’s best will battle it out for Player of the Year honours for last season!
Among those nominated for the Male Player of the Year for 2012 are two-time Olympic gold medallist, Lin Dan of China (left: BWF home page), and his perennial rival Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei; the current world No. 1 and two-time Olympic silver medallist. Others in that category are Olympic bronze medallist and winner of the BWF World Superseries Finals, Chen Long (China); Men’s Doubles Olympic gold medallists, Cai Yun/Fu Haifeng (China) and Lee Yong Dae and the now retired Jung Jae Sung (Korea), who won the Men’s Doubles bronze medal at London 2012.
In the reckoning for Female Player of the Year is world No. 1 Li Xuerui of China (right: BWF home page) who copped eight titles in 2012, including the Olympic and year-end crowns. Li’s compatriot, Wang Yihan, the Olympic silver medallist, has also been nominated as have India’s Saina Nehwal (Olympic bronze) and the winning Olympic Women’s Doubles pair Tian Qing/Zhao Yunlei (China).
Should a pair win either of these categories, they will share the annual award.
Meanwhile, the nominees for the Most Promising Player of the Year are: Tai Tzu Ying (Chinese Taipei); Viktor Axelsen (Denmark); Kento Momota (left: Junior World champion – Men; Japan); Nozomi Okuhara (right: Junior World champion – Women; Japan); Ratchanok Intanon (Thailand) and Busnan Ongbumrungpan (Thailand).
The key criteria for nomination are:
• Exceptional and consistent performance across a calendar year
• Performance at the Olympics, BWF events and Superseries events
• A good role model for the sport which goes beyond on-court performance
• Ranked among the top five in the world in the year of nomination
The 2012 choices for these awards will be made at the sole discretion of the BWF Council. The announcement of the winners and the presentation of prizes will take place at a gala dinner in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday 18 May, this year, following the BWF annual general meeting.
The BWF is pleased to recognise and congratulate recipients of various other awards for 2012.
They are as follows:
Lifetime Achievement Award: Heather Robson (NZL)
Hall of Fame: Ha Tae Kwon (KOR); Gong Zhi Chao (CHN)
Distinguished Service Award: Joao Matos (POR)
Meritorious Service Award: Luis Manoel da Fonseca Barreto (BRA); John C Briggs (ENG); Abby Kumar (ENG); Mrs Linda Alvarez (GIB); Chau Man Tuan (HKG); Hsu Show Hoo (HKB); Iriansyah Busra (INA); Anton Gonadi (INA); Koesdarto Pramono (INA); Chua Soo Hock (MAS) and Barabash Mykola (UKR).
Women in Badminton: Hiromi Murai (JPN)
Certificate of Commendation: Siam Cement Group (SCG)

World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei determined to do well this year despite falling ill

World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei’s participation in next week’s Australian Open Grand Prix Gold badminton tournament in Sydney from April 2-7, is hanging in balance.
Since returning from the All-England in Birmingham, Chong Wei had been sick for the last 10 days.
Chong Wei, who will turn 30 in October, had been battling flu and fever. He turned up for training yesterday at Stadium Juara in Bukit Kiara but only did a quick work-out to ensure that he does not lose his momentum.
“Since I got back home from Birmingham, I have been sick. This is one of the longest stretch that I have been ill,” said Chong Wei in a hoarse voice.
At Birmingham, Chong Wei was denied his third All-England title and third Super Series crown after crashing to China’s Chen Long in the final of the oldest tournament.
The two-time Olympic Games silver medallist had started the year with a bang after winning the Korean and Malaysian Opens.
Chong Wei admitted that lethargy had set in but he had no plans to take a long break – as how his nemesis Lin Dan of China had done. Lin Dan had been missing from action since beating Chong Wei for the gold medal at the London Olympic Games in August.
“I was rather tired after all the hard work at the All-England but I am still determined to do well this year. I will be happy if I can maintain a semi-final or final finish in every tournament that I compete in this year,” he said.
“My next tournament is the Australian Open but I am not sure whether I will be ready for it. We will see how it goes in the next few days.
Chong Wei is the top seed in the Australian GP Gold but he should nick it without much problem as all the top players from China, Indonesia, Denmark and South Korea are giving the tournament a miss.
Second seed Nguyen Tien Minh of Vietnam has withdrawn from the tournament and his closest rivals could be fellow Malaysians Liew Daren and Chong Wei Feng.
Chong Wei’s participation in the next two tournaments – India Open Super Series from April 23-28 in New Delhi and Malaysian Open GP Gold from April 30-May 5 at Kuantan are also pending. His wife Wong Mew Choo may give birth to his first child during that time.
Chong Wei, however, is committed to one thing right now – and that is to turn up and support his team during the return leg of the Axiata Cup, starting this Thursday at Putra Stadium.
“Our team have a chance of making the semi-finals and I will be there to support them. Hopefully, our men singles players (Daren and Wei Feng) will be able to give rousing performances,” added Chong Wei, who has decided to give his younger team-mates a break to prove themselves in the mixed team event.
Meanwhile, national coach Tey Seu Bock, is monitoring Chong Wei’s performances and is more focused on preparing the Malaysian for the Sudirman Cup in Kuala Lumpur from May 19-26 and the World Championships in Guangzhou.
“Chong Wei is focused in what he wants to achieve. It is just that he has been ill since returning from Birmingham. We are just re-looking at his training programme,” said Seu Bock.
“Almost all the singles players will be out for tournaments next week (Vietnam Open and Australian Open) and there may not be anyone to train with Chong Wei. Sometimes, going for tournament is good as it gives him some quality matches and I treat is as part of the training. Let’s hope he will recover quickly.”
Courtesy of The Star

Under-performers to be axed

Underachievers at the forthcoming Ciputra Hanoi International Challenge badminton tournament starting today with the qualifying tournament, are expected to face the axe.
With the bulging number of players in the national team – mostly the graduates from the Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) – the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) are looking at trimming the team by keeping only potential players.
There are currently 52 players in the national team (elite and back-up) and 60 under the BJSS banner.
National doubles chief coach Tan Kim Her (pic) said that some of the men’s doubles players have to go.
“There are just too many men’s doubles players in the squad right now. We have to drop those without future of going far. The players’ performances in the next two tournaments will give us coaches an idea of who to drop,” said Kim Her.
“We have to be fair to the players and not give them false hopes.”
In the Hanoi International Challenge, Malaysia have named Khang Tai An-Tan Chee Tean, Goh Jian Hao-Yew Hong Kheng, Shen Low Juan-Tan Yip Jiun, Jagdish Singh-Roni Tan Wee Long and Ong Jian Guo-Teo Kok Siang in the men’s doubles.
Jian Guo-Kok Siang are the more senior ones and they are expected to go far in the tournament. They will take on second seeds Ronald Alexander-Selvanus Geh of Indonesia in the first round.
In men’s singles, the focus will be on two players – Tan Kian Meng and Choong Yee Han – who are under a three-month probation with the national team. They have been sparring with world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei since January.
Both Kian Meng and Yee Han are unseeded and will take on Thailand’s Boonyakom Thumpanichwong and Indonesia’s Akbar Panji respectively in the opening round.
The other singles players hoping to make their mark are Goh Giap Chin, Chiang Jiann Shiarng, Soo Teck Zhi, Soong Joo Ven, Loh Wei Sheng, Mohd Azriyn Nur Ayub and Cheam June Wei. Several other club players are also taking part including former internationals Chan Kwong Beng and K. Yogendran, who currently enjoy the benefit of training under China’s Li Mao at the Kawasaki Badminton Club.
In women’s singles, Malaysia will be relying on Yang Li Lian. She is the top seed and will be taking on Shuo Yun-sung of Taiwan in the opening round. The other singles players are Lim Chiew Sien, Yii Lee Zii, Yap Rui Chen, S. Kisona, Lim Yin Fun and Ho Yen Mei.
With the lack of talents coming through in women’s singles, it is important for the second echelon of women singles players to step up.
Courtesy of The Star

Monday, March 25, 2013

Home crowd silenced as strong Indonesian side held to a draw

In control: Malaysia’s mixed doubles pair Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying in action against Europe All Star’s Nathan Robertson and Jenny Wallwork at the Axiata Cup Surabaya, Indonesia yesterday. Peng Soon-Liu Ying won 19-21, 21-16, 21-14. — KAMARUL ARIFFIN / The Star In control: Malaysia’s mixed doubles pair Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying in action against Europe All Star’s Nathan Robertson and Jenny Wallwork at the Axiata Cup Surabaya, Indonesia yesterday. Peng Soon-Liu Ying won 19-21, 21-16, 21-14. — KAMARUL ARIFFIN / The Star

The Asia All Stars upset the form-book at the US$1mil Axiata Cup after staging an impressive performance to hold defending champions Indonesia to a 2-2 draw at the DBL Arena yesterday.
Indonesia came into the tournament as the team to beat, having the fanatical home crowd behind them and having an impressive record in team tournaments.
But Hong Kong No.1 Yip Pui Yin, had other ideas as she silenced the noisy crowd by beating Aprillia Yuswandari in women’s singles.
The world No.27 was in inspired mood to defeat Yuswandari, ranked a spot higher than her, 21-14, 21-12.
Retired South Korean shuttler Lee Hyun-il then showed that he still has what it takes at the highest level to beat Simon Santoso in the men’s singles tie.
Hyun-il took a closely contested first game, and despite Santoso forcing a deciding rubber, was just too good in the end, winning 21-19, 14-21, 21-17.
Asia All Stars then had the chance to deal a demoralising defeat to Indonesia but mixed pair Tarun Kona-Ashwini Ponnappa failed to get the better of world No.8 Muhammad Rijal-Debby Susanto, losing 11-21, 21-19,14-21.
Young Indonesian pair Angga Pratama-Ryan Agung Saputra then sealed the comeback by beating Zheng Bo-Bao Chunlai 21-12, 21-14.
“It’s not exactly disappointing, getting held here, but I would have preferred if we had won,” said Indonesian team manager Bambang Roedyanto.
“Aprillia had a slight injury while Simon was up against an opponent who played superbly despite his age. A draw though is better than nothing and we’ll look forward to the second leg with a full strength squad.”
The likes of All-England mixed doubles champion Tontowi Ahmad-Liliyana Natsir, and world No.4 Sony Dwi Kuncoro could play in the second leg from March 29-31.
Thailand also showed just how serious they are in this tournament after recording a 4-0 win over Vietnam.
It was their third win in four matches and the Thais currently lead the eight-team tournament with a total of 13 points.
“I’m really happy because the team performed well above expectations,” said team manager Udom Luangphetcharaporn.
“What is really surprising is how well the whole team rallied together despite losing several regulars, like doubles player Bodin Isaara who is injured.
“Our target is first to make the semi-finals and then the final and we hope to maintain our position in the top four next week,” added Udom.
The tournament will take a one-week break before returning for the second leg in which half will be held in Kuala Lumpur. The other half then will continue to be held at Surabaya.
Meanwhile, Malaysia will head home for the second leg on a high after beating Europe All Stars 3-1.
Tee Jing Yi as expected, lost the women’s singles tie 12-21, 21-17, 13-21 to Spanish teenager Carolina Marin but world No.14 Liew Daren put Malaysia back on equal terms by beating Scott Evans 22-20, 21-19.
World No. 5 mixed pair Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying once again came back from a game down to beat Nathan Robertson-Jenny Wallwork 19-21, 21-16, 21-14 to hand Malaysia a 2-1 lead.
Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong then wrapped up the win by beating Russians Ivan Sozonov-Vladimir Ivanov 21-14, 21-17.

The Star

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Axiata Cup: Bizarre point to Koo-Tan earns draw with Indonesia

Digging deep: Malaysia’s Chan Peng Soon (left) and Goh Liu Ying in action against Indonesia’s Muhammad Rijal-Debby Susanto during their Axiata Cup match yesterday. The Malaysians won 18-21, 21-16, 21-19 — KAMARUL ARIFFIN / The StarDigging deep: Malaysia’s Chan Peng Soon (left) and Goh Liu Ying in action against Indonesia’s Muhammad Rijal-Debby Susanto during their Axiata Cup match yesterday. The Malaysians won 18-21, 21-16, 21-19 — KAMARUL ARIFFIN / The Star
Malaysia were once again lucky as they escaped with a 2-2 draw against Indonesia in the US$1mil Axiata Cup at the DBL Arena here yesterday.
After only managing a draw against Thailand on Friday, the Malaysians had an even tougher task taking on the hosts and defending champions.
Indonesia started well with Bellaetrix Manuputri storming to win the women’s singles tie, easily beating Tee Jing Yi 21-10, 21-18.
It was a really poor performance by world No. 51 Jing Yi, who was nowhere near her usual fighting self, as displayed against Thailand’s Ratchanok Inthanon on Friday.
In the men’s singles, world No. 16 Chong Wei Feng started for Malaysia, replacing Liew Daren in the line-up.
But that move did not inspire the team as Wei Feng had no answer to world No. 18 Tommy Sugiarto’s impressive attacking play, losing 16-21, 11-21.
It was then down to mixed pair Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying to turn it around once more but they found themselves trailing a game down early on.
But Peng Soon-Liu Ying managed to dig in and held their nerves before beating Muhammad Rijal-Debby Susanto 18-21, 21-16, 21-19.
World No. 2 Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong then completed the comeback by beating scratch pair Hendra Setiawan-Ryan Agung Saputra 21-12, 26-24 in the men’s doubles.
But it could have easily gone Indonesia’s way as the umpire awarded a bizarre point to Kien Keat-Boon Heong when the score was 20-20.
“We knew it wasn’t really nice to lose, so we just kept going and gave our best,” said Boon Heong.
National singles head coach Rashid Sidek admitted that his side was really lucky to get a draw.
“Indonesia were very strong and we were quite lucky to draw. I think it’s quite satisfying that we managed to come from behind to level the tie,” said Rashid.
Doubles head coach Tan Kim Her also admitted that the match could have easily gone in Indonesia’s favour.
“Right now, Indonesia are definitely stronger than us. But it was always a 50-50 game and we were hoping that Wei Feng could win his match,” said Kim Her.
To the team’s credit, they managed to stay strong and rally from behind.
“It also helped that the umpire gave Kien Keat-Boon Heong the point although I do not know why.
“The toughest matches in this tournament were always against Thailand and Indonesia and, luckily, we didn’t do too badly. Hopefully, the best is yet to come from the remaining matches,” said Kim Her.
Malaysia will wrap up their final match in the first leg against the Europe All Stars today while Indonesia will face Asia All Stars.
In other matches, Vietnam got their first win of the tournament by beating Philippines 3-1.
Courtesy of The Star

Axiata Cup: Daren and Jing Yi a big letdown in draw against Thailand

<B>Saviours:</B> Malaysia’s Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong in action against Thailand Boonsak Ponsana and Songphon Anugritayawon at the Axiata Cup in Surabaya. — KAMARUL ARIFFIN/The StarSaviours: Malaysia’s Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong in action against Thailand Boonsak Ponsana and Songphon Anugritayawon at the Axiata Cup in Surabaya. — KAMARUL ARIFFIN/The Star
Malaysia’s weakness in mixed team events was painfully exposed as they could only draw 2-2 with Thailand in the US$1mil Axiata Cup here yesterday.
And it was the singles – both the men’s and women’s – that let Malaysia down.
World No. 51 Tee Jing Yi was handed a tough task in the first match, taking on All England runner-up Ratchanok Inthanon.
To her credit though, Jing Yi gave it a good fight before going down 17-21, 20-22 to the Thai teenager.
Liew Daren, however, was a big disappointment in the men’s singles as he had trouble finding his feet against Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk.
The KL shuttler never looked comfortable against the lanky Thai and committed far too many errors in a meek 15-21, 17-21 defeat.
That put mixed pair Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying under intense pressure to deliver against world No. 6 Sudket Prapakamol-Saralee Thoungthongkam.
The Malaysians had lost to the Thai pair in their last three meetings.
But this time Peng Soon-Liu Ying delivered an excellent performance to win 20-22, 21-14, 21-14 before men’s pair Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong rescued the tie by beating Boonsak Ponsana-Songphonm Anugritayawon 21-13, 21-14.
National singles head coach Rashid Sidek prefers to look at the draw as a positive result.
“We knew Thailand were strong, and without (Lee) Chong Wei, a draw is quite a good result,” said Rashid.
“The downside was that Daren was too defensive against Tanongsak, who was excellent at the net.
“But there were some positives from the match, such as Jing Yi’s performance and the team’s fighting spirit.”
Malaysia, however, will definitely need to step it up a notch if they aim to gain anything when they take on hosts and defending champions Indonesia today.
The Indonesians were on fire as they whipped high-flying Singapore 4-0 in an earlier match.
“They are the hosts and definitely have the advantage. They also have more options in their line-up ... but I believe we can get something from that match,” said Rashid.
Earlier, Indonesia team manager Bambang Roedyanto warned Malaysia that they’ll be looking for a win.
“Malaysia will be a strong challenge but we are more than ready to face them. We want to win,” he said.
In other matches, Asia All Star bounced back from an opening day loss to the Thais by beating the Philippines 4-0.
The Europe All Stars also regained their winning ways – beating Vietnam 3-1.
Courtesy of The Star