Badminton Life

New Zealand Badminton Stars Set for Beijing

When you think about New Zealand sport stars, it is inevitable that rugby union springs to mind.

The All Blacks are considered one of the greatest sporting teams throughout the world and their haka encourages adulation from many people who would have very little time for the sport itself. Rugby is not the only sport of interest in the nation though and the top three badminton stars of the country will be very excited at the moment as they look forward to the Beijing Olympics.

There is no doubt that the Olympic Games are held as the highpoint for sporting stars to aim for and any athlete who makes it to the Olympics, regardless of where they finish up will always be able to look back and say that they made it. This is exactly what John Moody, Craig Cooper and Rene Flavell will be thinking today as they prepare for the August Games.

Moody will represent New Zealand in the Mens Singles event whilst Cooper and Flavell will pair up in the Mixed Doubles event. There probably isn't a lot of expectation on these players returning from the Olympics with a medal in tow but merely qualifying and representing their nation at one of the biggest sporting events ever is a key point in their careers.

It is the first time that all three players will compete at the Games and all had to pass the strict New Zealand qualification guidelines to book their place. New Zealand believes that any athlete they send to the Olympics must prove to be capable of getting to the last 16 of the event they are representing in and this indicates a level of skill and talent for any person selected. The Doubles pairing of Cooper and Flavell are currently ranked as number 15 in the World Olympic rankings and the pair will be looking to finish at least this high in the event with the outside chance of finishing further.

All the players have achieved credible results in the past year and there is a genuine cause for optimism over this form being replicated in China this summer. Moody won the Oceania Singles event and got to the last 16 of the Indonesian Super Series event. Cooper and Flavell reached the last sixteen of the Hong Kong Super Series event and a quarter final of the KLRC event in Auckland so they are no strangers to performing well when the pressure is on.

These events may not be as high pressured as the Olympics but very few sporting events are and with many other teams having greater expectations placed upon them, the New Zealand stars may be able to relax and cause an upset or two.

Moody and Cooper have some big tournament experience as the two players represented New Zealand at the 2006 Commonwealth Games which took place in Melbourne. The New Zealand team on that occasion narrowly lost to Indonesia in the bronze medal play-off match which highlights the level of talent in New Zealand badminton.

As a sport, badminton is gaining popularity amongst younger people and it can only be hoped that a good showing in Beijing will raise the profile of the sport even higher.

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