Badminton Life

Nigerian Daniels in Top Form, Says Coach

If there was not enough pressure on Nigerian women's singles player Grace Daniels to even win a match at the Olympics, her coach has made it even worse by announcing that she has a chance of being in the medals.

Tide Sport reported that Daniels' coach Samson Egbeyemi had said his charge is capable of winning a medal at the Beijing Olympics, despite heavy odds against her and the presence of top players from China, Indonesia and Europe.

Daniels has done well in African tournaments, winning February's Mauritius International, finishing runner-up at the Nigerian International and reaching the semi-finals of the Kenya International events.

However, none of them were Super Series tournaments, which attract the top-ranked players of the world.

Even in tournaments of a higher status, such as the Norwegian International, Hungarian International, Bulgarian International and Belgian International, she failed to get past the last 16.

Ranked 96th in the world, her coach must know something no one else does.

"She had been training hard and she will continue in the same pace to sustain her form for the Olympic Games," the coach was quoted as saying.

"She is in excellent form and she did well in the last two tournaments she attended. We expect her to do the African continent proud in Beijing."

Daniels is the only badminton representative from Nigeria to take part in the Olympics and has been training in Germany in the run-up to Beijing.

However, while an Olympic medal may be some way off for the Nigerian, she is expected to be among the top Africans in the women's singles event.

She has beaten the fellow African players who have also qualified for the Olympics, although all of them will have a tough time trying to even get past the first round in Beijing.

The medals in the women's singles competition is most likely to go to a Chinese player, who dominate the current rankings.

Chinese players occupy the top three positions with Xie Xingfang ahead of teammates Zhu Lin and Lu Lan. Denmark's Tine Rasmussen, the All England champion, is ranked fourth with another Chinese, Zhang Ning, ranked fifth.

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