London 2012 Olympics: Analyzing Top 5 Men's and Women's Badminton Players
Badminton, traditionally, has been dominated by the Asian countries, especially the Chinese and Koreans.
This year things will be no different at the London Olympics where there will be a clutch of hopefuls from the Asian countries who will most likely appear in the last rounds.
Each match is a best-of-three-games contest. The World Badminton Federation's ranking list is used to finalize the qualification for the Olympic tournament.
China has dominated the table of medals won by countries since the game was introduced in the 1992 Olympics, followed by South Korea and Indonesia.
Both in the men's and women's events, the Chinese are the strong favorites. With their court speed, agility and ability to play a variety of shots, the Chinese will be the team to beat among others.
Denmark, Malaysia, Great Britain and the Netherlands are other countries who have won medals in the Olympics.
This time around, there are many more who are vying to get onto the podium at London.
Let us look at the top five favorites in the men's and women's lineups.
Women's No. 5: Juliane Schenk of Germany
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Juliane is ranked No.6 in the world but will be seeded fifth in the Olympics.
Juliane comes into the Olympics with a win in the last tournament, the Li Ning Singapore Open.
Having lost in the first round in Beijing Olympics, Juliane will be keen to improve her record this time around.
Men's No. 5: Peter Gade of Denmark
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Peter Gade of Denmark is the lone ranger representing Europe in the top five of the men's singles competition.
Currently ranked at No. 5, Gade has been a thorn in the Chinese side for quite a while.
One of the most successful badminton players in history, Gade is still very active at the ripe age of 35.
Gade has lost to the eventual gold-medal winner in all the three Olympics he has participated in.
Will he do better this time?
Women's No. 4: Saina Nehwal of India
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Saina carries the hopes of more than a billion people from her Indian country.
Coming into the Olympics with two tournament wins under her belt, Saina is the favorite from the non-Chinese camp to win the gold.
If the Chinese have anyone to be worried about, it is Saina—thanks to her rejuvenated game and consistent results.
The draw has been favorable to her with the likelihood of meeting the Chinese mostly during the semifinal stage. If all goes well, Saina will be ending the tournament with a medal.
Men's No. 4: Chen Jin of China
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Chen Jin has won the 2010 World Championship in his career already and currently he is ranked at No.4.
Climbing from the junior ranks, Chen won multiple titles to make his mark in the senior circuit.
Having won three tournaments already this year, Chen is looking forward to the Olympics for a higher medal than his bronze at Beijing.
Women's No. 3: Li Xuerui of China
Currently ranked No. 4, Li was preferred to another player from her country (Wang Shixian) mainly for her great form in 2012.
Li's stronger performance against the main non-Chinese rival, Saina Nehwal, was also considered to be the main reason for her inclusion into the Olympics squad.
Having won four tournaments already this year, Li is keen to make her mark in the Olympic singles.
Men's No. 3: Chen Long of China
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Ranked No. 3 in the world, Chen Long is an able compatriot to Lin Dan.
Chen Long has won gold at team events in the Asian Games, Thomas Cup and other competitions.
Chen's inconsistency could be his bane during the Olympics as he has suffered many surprise defeats combined with runs to the final.
Though he has not been able to defeat Lin Dan or Lee Chong Wei, Chen has managed to cling on to the No. 3 ranking.
Women's No. 2: Wang Xin of China
The No. 2 in the world, Wang Xin, has also tasted success, albeit briefly, as the No. 1 in the world.
With just the victory in Thomas Cup this year, Wang will be eager to secure a medal in London 2012.
Wang Xin has done well consistently to remain in the top rankings of the women's singles.
Men's No. 2: Lee Chong Wei from Malaysia
Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei is currently ranked No. 2 in the world even though he was ranked first in the world from August 2008 to June 2012. However, he has been seeded first in the Olympics.
Lee has managed to break the stronghold of Chinese Lin Dan in men's singles though he was not able to win the gold medal in Beijing Olympics (finishing second).
If he is clear from injury, no one can prevent his matchup with Lin Dan.
Women's No. 1: Wang Yihan of China
Wang is the current world champion who has also taken over the No. 1 ranking.
Coached by double Olympic gold medalist, Zhang Ning, Wang is the favorite to win the gold medal in London.
After taking over the No. 1 position, Wang has held on to the top three for the last three years.
Her success record against her top opponents is heavily in favor of Wang—it is a rarity if Wang does not appear in the finals of the women's singles.
Men's No. 1: Lin Dan of China
Lin Dan is the current Olympic champion who seems to be destined to repeat his achievement once again in London 2012.
Lin Dan is considered by many as an all-time greatest badminton player thanks to his achievements of winning everything at sight (Super Series tournaments, Olympics, All-England title, World Championships, World Cup and many more).
In fact, one can safely assume that Dan is the badminton equivalent to Roger Federer in tennis—hence the name "Super Dan".
Ranked No. 1 in the world, Lin Dan is the man to beat for the rest of the competition.