Badminton Life

China's Xie Favoured for Olympic Gold

Chinese top seed Xie Xingfang appears to have a solid chance of winning the gold medal at the Beijing Olympics after she was given a favourable draw for the women's singles event on July 26.

Xie's first-round opponent is Taiwan's Cheng Shao-chieh, who is ranked 25th in the world and is her territory's leading player.

Xie is expected to meet defending champion and compatriot Zhang Ning in the final. Zhang has a first-round clash against Thailand's 29th-ranked Ponsana Salakjit, who is unlikely to trouble the Chinese player.

However, Zhang may find it tougher in her next match, which is likely to be against South Korea's Youn Jun-jae, who takes on Poland's Kamila Augustyn in her opening match.

Zhang is seeded to face Hong Kong's sixth-ranked Wang Chen in the quarter-finals. Wang takes on Slovakia's Eva Sladekova in her first match but her path to the last eight may be severely tested by Denmark's All England champion Tine Rasmussen.

Xie's expected quarter-final opponent is her countrywoman Lu Lan, who takes on Mauritius hope Karen Foo Kune in her first match.

Lu's main opponent before the quarter-finals is expected to be Malaysia's rising Wong Mew Choo, who must first overcome her opening-round opponent, South Africa's Kerry-Lee Harrington.

Xie's first test could come in her second-round match, where her likely opponent may be Singapore's Xing Aiying. Also in Xie's side of the draw is Hong Kong's Yip Pui-yin, who is more than capable of causing an upset against the Chinese world number one.

China's three singles representatives are overwhelming favourites to dominate the Olympic competition, especially after their performance at May's Uber Cup in Jakarta, where they cruised past all opponents to take the title.

Rasmussen is one player who could upset the Chinese plans. The lanky Dane has emerged as a genuine gold medal contender following her All England triumph earlier this year. She also won the Malaysian Open singles title in January and the China players are wary of her threat.

Rasmussen has what is expected to be an easy first-round match against Lithuania's Akvile Stapusaityte.

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