It is hoped the match-fixing scandals that occurred at London 2012 are not repeated at the BWF World Championships, and that the tournament is remembered for the quality of badminton rather than any gamesmanship.
With five gold medals up for grabs, let’s take a look at who might be taking their place on top of the podium come Sunday.
Men’s Singles—Lin Dan (China)
The most decorated badminton player of all-time returns from an extended break to seek another world title.
Lin won gold at the London Olympics, beating then top seed Lee Chong Wei in the final in a tense deciding set. His success in 2012 added to the gold he secured in Beijing four years earlier and his four world crowns.
If he’s on form, ‘Super Dan’ will be unbeatable. But he enters the tournament on the back of an extended break and currently finds himself languishing at 41 in the world rankings, meaning he only qualified via a wildcard entry.
Lin turns 30 in October, so the World Championships might mark his final chance to add to his global haul.
Women’s Singles—Li Xuerui (China)
From one Olympic champion to another. Xuerui burst onto the scene in 2012 and has looked unbeatable since.
The 22-year-old has the potential to dominate the sport for a decade but she will face stiff competition from compatriot Wang Yihan and India’s Saina Nehwal in Guangzhou.
What made Xuerui’s London 2012 success even more impressive was the amount of tight matches in which she prevailed. A mentally tough youngster who is also number one in the world is a daunting prospect for the rest of the field.
Men’s Doubles—Ko Sung Hyun and Lee Yong Dae (Korea)
Is this the year Lee finally wins a world title? After winning gold in the mixed doubles at the Beijing Olympics much was expected of the Korean.
Instead his career has seen him collect an unhealthy amount of silver and bronze medals with his inability (or lack thereof) to produce in finals proving a real mental barrier.
The year of 2013 marks the start of a new partnership for Lee, with Ko the chosen man to help deliver him elusive world success. They had an impressive start, winning the Victor Korea Open against World Championship top seeds Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen of Denmark.
They suffered defeat in the final of this year’s Malaysian Open but the signs are still promising ahead of the tournament.
Women’s Doubles—Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang (China)
The 2013 World Championships offer women’s doubles the opportunity for redemption after the controversy that enveloped last year’s Olympics where four teams were disqualified for match-fixing.
Although they were among the teams sent home in London, it’s hard to look past the number one seeds Xiaoli and Yang who will be desperate to reassert themselves back on the game.
Yang briefly retired after last year’s controversy, but returns now to partner one of the finest badminton players the game boasts in Xiaoli.
If the two play every match at 100 percent, it will be China’s national anthem ringing out on the podium once more.
Mixed Doubles—Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei (China)
The mixed doubles is yet another event China will dominate on home soil.
Third seeds Zhang and Zhao blitzed this year’s top seeds Xu Chen and Ma Jin in the Olympic final and should the two meet again at the World Championships a similar result can be expected.
Don’t count out Indonesian second seeds Tontowi Ahmad and Lilyana Natsir, who have won three tournaments in 2013 already, but with home backing a Chinese pairing are likely to claim top spot on Sunday.
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