China Leads Asian Dominance
At the highest level, China proved that they are the dominant badminton nation when they took three of the five gold medals on offer at the Beijing Olympic Games.
|One rung below them, the Asian countries, in general, showed the world that they remain the continental superpowers. |
China won gold in the men's singles, women's singles and women's doubles, while Indonesia won the men's doubles and South Korea emerged triumphant in the mixed doubles.
Badminton, with its fast-paced action and multitude of personalities, was among the most popular tournaments at the Olympics, which bodes well for the future.
The crowds at the Beijing Technological University were enthusiastic and passionate when watching the matches.
Kang Young-joong, the South Korean president of Badminton World Federation, was quoted by Xinhua as saying: "The popularity of badminton will increase dramatically after the Beijing Olympic Games."
However, there is still concern that European players are falling behind their Asian rivals.
Denmark are the top European nation with England also producing world-class players. But Europe's top players are getting on in age.
Former men's world number one Peter Gade is now 31 while Jens Eriksen is 38. England's Gail Emms, a mixed doubles silver medallist from Athens four years ago, is 31.
In contrast, the top Asia players are still going strong with China's men's singles gold winner Lin Dan only 25 while Indonesia's golden men's doubles pair of Markis Kido and Hendra Setiawan also have many years left in them.
Players like Du Jing and Yu Yang, China's women's doubles gold medallists and South Korea's rising doubles player Lee Yong-dae are also emerging as world-class players.
Europe also have some potential but from players outside the traditional powers. Belarussian Olga Konon and Lithuania's Kestutis Navickas are young and keen and could fly the flag for Europe in the near future.
BWF have set up training centres in these countries and other parts of Europe in a bid to groom players from the continent.
The world governing body is looking at launching two-week training camps, four times a year for promising players from the less-developed badminton countries.
Roger Johansson, Development Committee Chairman of the BWF, was quoted as sayings: "This time we have brought players from 50 NOCs, and the next goal is medals in London (2012 Olympics)."
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