With BWF World Badminton Championship tournament beginning in Jakarta on Monday, August 10, 2015, there are two singles players, for whom the personal stakes will be far higher than any other competitor. One is the current women’s singles champion Carolina Marin of Spain and the other is Malaysian superstar Lee Chong Wei. In 2014, Marin played as the ninth seed and after making amazing progress at different stages, she emerged as the first European woman since Denmark’s Camilla won the women’s crown in 1999. Since that victory, Marin had won several matches and is currently the world’s no.1 ranked women’s singles player. For the celebrated Lee Chong Wei, it will be a case of honor redemption after he reached the final as the top seed but lost to China’s no.2 seed Chen Long in August 2014. But Lee was stripped off his silver medal on April 27, 2015 because he was served an eight-month long doping ban. The Malaysian suffered in humiliation and only recently the ban has been lifted. Loss of participation in international matches has affected Lee’s current ranking, which stands at no.45 as on August 6, 2015. It is also the first time that Lee enters the world championship as an unseeded player. Lee has never won the world championships but on two occasions, he won the silvers. In 2011 and 2013, he lost to China’s Lin Dan in the finals in London and Guangzhou respectively. In 2005, Lee finished with a bronze in Anaheim, United States after losing in semifinals to the eventual champion and Olympic gold medal winner Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia. But the 2015 championships hold far greater importance for Lee Chong Wei after his return to active badminton following a doping ban.
Women’s Singles World champion Carolina Marin is enjoying a great time after she firmly entrenched herself on the world badminton scene. Following her victory in the 2014 Copenhagen final over Chinese no.1 seed Li Xuerui, Marin’s star has been on the rise. Her performances in BWF super-series matches have been exemplary. The way she destroyed India’s Saina Nehwal in the All-England final in March 2015 was a real treat for badminton fans. Marin proved that her 2014 World Championship win was no fluke as she bounced back after losing the first game to the Indian. The 21-year-old Spaniard used a mix of clever change of pace, piercing winners and delicate drop shots. She kept a smiling face all through and as Nehwal’s game fell apart, Marin took the championship as a smiling assassin with the Indian watching her own funeral. Marin continued to improve and rose to the no.1 spot in next to no time.
In an online poll recently conducted by Indonesia Badminton Federation, Carolina Marin has been voted as the fans’ most favorite woman player beating Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon and Korea’s Lee Yong Dae. Men’s vote was won by Indonesia’s Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo. Marin was the toast of a welcome dinner on August 8, 2015 hosted by the Governor of Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama in honor of participants of Total BWF World Championships. Marin is the top seed in the tournament and has a first-round bye. She begins her campaign on August 11 against the winner in the match between Malaysia’s Jing Yi Tee and Italy’s Jeanie Cicognini. The Spaniard is determined to retain her 2015 world championship and lot of people think that she can successfully do so.
For Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei, 2015 World Championship is an acid test. It is more about proving his badminton capability and regaining the lost prestige than merely winning matches. The 8-month long doping ban was a huge blot on the reputation of the former world no.1. Like Marin, Lee also has his first match on August 11 against Lithuania’s Kestutis Nevickas but he runs against Germany’s no.12 seed Marc Zwiebler in the second round. If the Malaysian crosses this hurdle, he still has China’s 8th seed Wang Zhengming to contend with. It is a tough draw for Lee but the 33-year old Malaysian himself is a man of many seasons and very determined at this juncture. Along with several Malaysian players, Lee Chong Wei left for Jakarta yesterday. He is sporting a new hairstyle with blue-tinged hair. Lee has a coaching team consisting of Morten Frost, Hendrawan, and Tey Seu Bock.