In the next three days, the top guys and girls in world badminton will attempt to prove their supremacy in the shuttle sports at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. However, unlike 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Games, Rio will not see China’s Lin Dan and Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei playing the gold medal match. The tournament draw has ensured that. These two gold and silver winners of the last two Olympics are meeting in the semifinal on Friday. In the other semifinal, China’s Chen Long will play against Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen. The current men’s badminton scene is dominated by the trio of Lee Chong Wei, Lin Dan and Chen Long and all three have their chances at Rio. On Thursday, Spain’s Carolina Marin will lock horns with China’s Li Xuerui in the first women’s semifinal while Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara squares up with India’s PV Sindhu. The first badminton gold has already been decided on Wednesday, when Indonesia’s Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir won the mixed doubles final defeating Malaysia’s Chang Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying. The second gold will be decided on Thursday, when Japanese world no.1 women’s doubles team of Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi meets the Denmark pair of Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Ryter-Juhl in the final.
China’s Lin Dan is the reigning Olympic champion twice over. He won the gold medal in 2008 Beijing Games and repeated that feat at London four years later. On both occasions, Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei finished as the runners-up. One of them will enter the final for the third consecutive Olympic at Rio on August 19, because the men’s singles draw at Rio has pitted them against each other in the semifinal. The Lee-Lin rivalry is regarded as badminton’s longest running rivalry. Over the last decade and a half, they have played against each other 31 times and Lin Dan has a 22-9 edge over Lee. They are the most dominant players of their generation and have impacted the game of badminton positively in propagating its world-wide popularity. Both are nearly the same age; Lee was born in October 1982 and Lin Dan in April 1983. In all probability, 2016 Rio could be their Olympic appearance and they will be determined to produce their best performance. In the quarterfinal on Wednesday, however, Lin Dan survived a big scare, when India’s Kidambi Srikanth almost took the match from him before Lin prevailed at 21-6, 11-21, 21-18. Lee Chong Wei however, had an easy outing against Taiwan’s Chou Tien Chen. Playing dominantly, the Malaysian scored a two-game 21-9, 21-15 victory over the Taiwanese to enter the semifinal. In another quarterfinal, world no.2 Chen Long of China lost a game before beating Korea’s Son Wan Ho 21-11, 18-21, 21-11. The last semifinal spot was taken by Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen, who defeated Great Britain’s Rajiv Ouseph 21-12, 21-16.
In Wednesday’s mixed doubles final, it was an easy victory for Indonesians Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir. They defeated the Malaysian team of Chang Peng Soon/Goh Liu Ying 21-14, 21-12 to claim the gold medal. Another gold medal will be decided on Thursday, when Japan’s Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi play the women’s doubles final against Denmark’s Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Ryter-Juhl. Thursday is also the day for women’s singles semifinal, where Spain’s Carolina Marin will against China’s reigning Olympic champion Li Xuerui and Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara takes on India’s PV Sindhu. The Indian has played strongly on her way to the round-of-four and another victory for her will ensure a medal for India.
Besides men’s singles semifinals, Friday will also feature men’s doubles and women’s singles gold medal matches. While women finalists are yet to be decided, men’s doubles line-up is clear. Malaysia’s Goh V Shem/Tan Wee Kiong will against China’s Fu Haifeng/Zhang Nan for the Rio Olympic gold medal
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