Badminton Life

Vietnam Nguyen Hopes to Secure Olympic Berth

Hanoi - Vietnam have never set the badminton world alight but they are hoping to make a start at the Beijing Olympic Games this year.

According to local media, the Vietnamese badminton authorities are hoping to have two of their players qualify for the Olympics, according to the Saigon Liberation newspaper.

Their quest is led by their top male player Nguyen Tien Minh, who was ranked as high as 39 in the world as of January 31, 2008.

With his ranking, and country numbers given preference over individuals at the Olympics, Nguyen is likely to fill one of the places that Vietnam hopes for.

However, the second spot is where they are struggling. Le Ngoc Nguyen Nhung is Vietnam's highest ranked women's player but she is way down at 89.

With such a low ranking it will take a major effort in the tournaments between now and Beijing for Le Ngoc to rise up the ladder and win a place in the Beijing women's singles draw.

She needs to finish in the top 60 by the time the Olympic draw is ready to be filled if she wants to go to Beijing.

Le Ngoc is the country's best hope for a second Olympic spot because the men's squad is severely lacking in depth.

Apart from Nguyen, there is no one close to world standards in the Vietnam team. The country's second-ranked player, Duong Phuong Nam, is a distant 194 in the official world rankings and has virtually no chance of even playing in forthcoming national Open tournaments.

After that, Vietnam players are ranked anywhere from 202 to 412 in the rankings released at the end of January.

Nguyen, meanwhile, will have a great chance to show his home fans what he can do when he leads Vietnam's bid to qualify for the Thomas Cup Finals.

Vietnam£r Ho Chi Minh City hosts the Asian Zone qualifiers from February 19-24 and Nguyen will be hoping to upset rivals from South Korea and Singapore in Group B.

Only the top two teams qualify for the quarter-finals and Vietnam face an uphill battle with Korea and Singapore having players who are much higher in the world rankings than Nguyen.

Nguyen's preparations for Beijing also include the Germany Open, Switzerland Open, an Indian tournament in April and the Badminton Asia Championship 2008.

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