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Rivals Try to Unravel China's Secrets

As the badminton world focuses on the impending Beijing Olympics, coaches and players from around the world are looking for flaws in the mighty Chinese team.

China won the men's Thomas Cup and women's Uber Cup team tournaments in Jakarta in May, showing depth in the quality and numbers of players they have.

If world number one men's player Lin Dan is off form, there is always Bao Chunlai or Chen Jin to go for glory. In the women's category, they have the three top-ranked players in the world in Xie Xingfang, Zhang Ning and Lu Lan.

However, some people are holding out hope that some of the weaknesses China showed at the Thomas and Uber Cup finals will manifest themselves on home ground, where they will come under enormous pressure from the local fans.

Among them is Netherlands coach Martijn Van Dooremalen, whose team suffered a narrow 3-2 defeat to the Chinese in the Uber Cup.

"What is clear is that the Chinese are not invincible and they can lose their composure when they are under pressure too, which should be good news for everyone. They can be beaten," he was quoted as saying in an AFP article.

Certainly Lin's tag as favourite for the Olympic gold in the men's singles is not as secure as it had once been.

The Chinese star has failed to perform to his best this season, having lost his All England title to compatriot Chen. However, his defeat to Malaysia's world number two Lee Chong Wei in China's 3-2 Thomas Cup semi-final win was a real eye-opener.

That defeat has virtually reversed the favourite's tag, with Lee now the one to watch.

Among the other countries that could threaten China are Indonesia, South Korea and Denmark.

Indonesia's women's coach Susi Susanti, who won the women's singles gold at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, believes that the Chinese can be beaten.

"I feel that the Chinese singles are not as unbeatable as they used to be when I was playing. If we consider how (Malaysia's) Wong Mew Choo won in China, Tine Rasmussen's recent success at the All England, I hope my players can use these examples to remember that the Chinese are beatable," she said.












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