Top badminton stories to watch in Rio
The badminton competitions at the Rio Games will feature hundreds of storylines, but these five are the most exciting.
How will Team USA stack up?
The United States has never won an Olympic medal in badminton. The country had its best chance at the London 2012 Games with men’s doubles pair Howard Bach and Tony Gunawan, who had previously won World Championship gold together in 2005. But at those Games, Bach and Gunawan were 33 and 37 years old, respectively – and lost in the preliminary rounds.
At the Rio Games, the United States will have its largest-ever badminton team compete in each of the five categories (men and women’s singles, men and women’s doubles, mixed doubles). The country’s best hope may lie with women’s doubles team Eva Lee and Paula Lynn Obanana, who currently rank as the World No. 31 duo.
A potential Lee-Lin semifinal showdown
Badminton at the Rio 2016 Olympics is set for at least one truly epic showdown.
China’s Lin “Super” Dan has defeated Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei in two consecutive Olympic men’s singles finals, at Beijing 2008 and London 2012. While Lin swept Lee in straight sets in 2008, he had a harder time in 2012, barely winning a 15-21, 21-10, 21-19 nail-biter.
Four years later, the tables may have finally turned. Lee is ranked the World No. 1 badminton player, while Lin sits at World No. 3. (China’s Chen Long – who won men’s singles bronze at London 2012 – occupies the World No. 2 spot.)
Based off the draw, Lin and Lee could potentially meet in the semifinals.
Mogensen competes after brain aneurysm
Denmark’s Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen are one of the world’s best badminton men’s doubles teams. Together, they won Olympic silver in the category at London 2012 and are currently ranked World No. 6.
However, tragedy struck this past February when Mogensen suffered a brain aneurysm.
The Danish player recovered surprisingly quickly, and has been competing in various tournaments the last several months. He and Boe will look to defend their medal in Rio.
Marin tries for Spain’s first badminton medal
Spain’s Carolina Marin is the World No. 1 women’s singles badminton player. Should she place among the top three in the category at the Rio Games, she’ll have earned Spain the country’s first medal in the sport.
New competition format to avoid scandal
Professional badminton in general has suffered a number of scandals in recent years, running the gamut from doping to Japanese singles star Kento Momota illegally visiting casinos. But badminton at the London 2012 Games hit a true low when four women’s doubles teams were disqualified for throwing matches in order to manipulate the round robin draw.
The Rio 2016 badminton competitions will feature several scheduling changes to avoid a repeat scenario.