Badminton Life

Olympic hope Li Li walks out on Singapore badminton

Singapore had high hopes for women badminton at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

However, those hopes were effectively blown away after their top female singles player, Li Li, abruptly decided to walk out of the national team.

Li, who was born in China and has made Singapore her home, said she was leaving because of personal reasons.

She has decided to spend the Lunar New Year in her native Wuhan Province in China and, from there, she will decide if she has a future in international sport.

The 24-year-old Li was quoted as saying in Today newspaper: "I just don feel like playing badminton and want to take a break to rest for a while."

"I don't know if I will continue with badminton. Right now, I'm planning to return to Wuhan to spend Chinese New Year with my parents. I need time to think about my future in the sport."

Li's greatest claim to fame was at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, where she caused a major upset by beating England's Tracey Hallam in the women's singles final.

It was the first time Singapore had won a gold medal in Commonwealth Games badminton.

Singapore badminton had great things planned for Li, who is ranked 27th in the world. She was the island-state's main hope in their Project 0812, which is an extensive sporting plan to win medals at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games.

The project has been bestowed with around US$5 million in funds to help prepare Singapore's athletes for the two Games with the resources being shared among badminton, sailing, table tennis and shooting.

But unless Li makes a dramatic U-turn, it seems that badminton may have to write off their Olympic medal chances.

Singapore's women's badminton squad have benefited from the arrival of mainland Chinese players to take up residence in the country.

With Li's absence, they are left with world number 39 Xing Aiying and 87th-ranked Fu Mingtian, who are solid players but unlikely to qualify for the Olympics let alone deliver medals.

Singapore's men may still harbour medal hopes at Beijing with their top two singles players, number 20 Kendrick Lee Yen Hui and 21st-ranked Ronald Susilo.

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