Top badminton players to watch in Rio
Hundreds of athletes will compete in the badminton tournaments at the Rio Games, but some have more storied histories than others. Here are five badminton players you should keep an eye on at the upcoming Olympics.
Lee Chong Wei fights for redemption, first singles gold
After a second round loss in men’s singles at the 2004 Athens Games, Lee advanced to the final of the 2008 Beijing Games. There, he lost to China’s Lin Dan in straight sets. He had an opportunity for revenge at the 2012 London Games, where Lee and Lin faced off again in the men’s singles final. Once again, Lin defeated Lee in three tight sets.
In the years since, Lee has won World Championships titles in 2013 and 2015. That October, he was hit with a doping ban that lasted through May 1, 2015. Since then, Lee has made a remarkable comeback; two weeks before the Rio Games begin, he sits atop the world rankings.
Lee’s Olympic performances have made him his country’s most successful Olympian ever. He will attempt to cap his illustrious badminton career with an elusive gold medal in men’s singles.
Lin “Super” Dan goes for record third singles gold
Lin is considered by many the greatest badminton player of all time, as he is the only man to have completed the sport’s “Super Grand Slam”: wins at nine major tournaments, including the Olympics.
Chen Long seeks a return to form
Chen Long is one of the most decorated active men’s badminton players. At his debut Olympic appearance in London 2012, he scored a bronze medal in singles. Since then, he’s been largely dominant: He won gold in men’s singles at the 2014 and 2015 World Championships.
From December 2014 through June 2016, he was the World No. 1 badminton singles player - before Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei took the top spot. Chen will likely square off against Lee, as well as compatriot and two-time Olympic gold medalist Lin “Super” Dan, at the Rio Games.
Carolina Marin looks to make history
Badminton singles player Carolina Marin has a chance to set a number of historical precedents at the Rio 2016 Games.
For one, World No. 1 Marin could become the third non-Asian woman to win a badminton singles medal since the sport’s Olympic introduction in 1992. (Denmark’s Camilla Martin won silver in 2000, and the Netherlands’ Mia Audina won silver in 2004). That also means Marin has a shot at becoming the first non-Asian gold medalist.
Marin started playing badminton in 2009. She won badminton gold in women’s singles at the 2014 and 2015 World Championships. Early this past May, she hit World No. 1 status – and remains at the top of the rankings just ahead of the Games.
Saina Nehwal aims for second Olympic medal
India’s Saina Nehwal has a lot to prove at the Rio Games.
At the London 2012 Games, she became the first Indian to win an Olympic medal in badminton with a bronze in singles. She peaked three years later, reaching World No. 1 status in April 2015; that August, she won singles silver at the World Championships.
Unfortunately, 2016 has been rough for Saina. While battling various injuries, the Indian suffered some tough losses. Saina bounced around the rankings, but currently holds the World No. 5 spot just two weeks away from the Rio Games.
Saina was the World No. 2 badminton player in August 2015. One year later, she’ll have to fight hard to defend her Olympic bronze medal.
Top athletes to watch in Rio
Click your favorite sports below to learn the names of the best athletes competing in Rio
Archery | Badminton | Basketball | Beach Volleyball | Boxing | Canoe/Kayak | Cycling | Diving | Equestrian | Fencing | Field Hockey | Golf | Gymnastics | Handball | Judo | Modern Pentathlon | Rhythmic Gymnastics | Rowing | Rugby | Sailing | Shooting | Soccer | Swimming | Synchronized Swimming | Table Tennis | Taekwondo | Tennis | Track and Field | Trampoline | Triathlon | Volleyball | Water Polo | Weightlifting | Wrestling