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What you've missed since London: Badminton

Kyle Terada

What you've missed since London: Badminton

Find out more about who's dominated the badminton World Championships and world rankings lists since the conclusion of London 2012.

2012 Olympics badminton gold medalists:

Men's singles: Lin Dan, China

Men's doubles: Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng, China

Women's singles: Li Xuerui, China

Women's doubles: Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei, China

Mixed doubles: Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei, China

 

2015 BWF World Championship gold medalists:

Men's singles: Chen Long, China (London bronze medalist)

Men's doubles: Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan, Indonesia

Women's singles: Carolina Marin, Spain

Women's doubles: Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei, China 

Mixed doubles: Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei, China

 

Who's back:

Perhaps the most notable badminton match at the London 2012 Games was the men's final between China's Lin "Super" Dan and Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei - a rematch of the Beijing 2008 final. Once again, Lin overwhelmed his rival in a tight three sets.

Lin has continued to perform well as he's aged into his thirties. In 2013, he won gold over Lee at the World Championships. Lin finished 2014 ranked world no. 4. 

Lee Chong Wei, meanwhile, was hit with a doping ban in 2014 after testing positive for dexamethasone, a steroid. He began competing again the following May.  At the 2015 World Championships, Lee took home silver; Lin did not win a medal.

Four years later, it looks like Lee might finally have the advantage over Lin - but could potentially face stiff competition from a new Chinese opponent. The 2015 World Championship gold medalist was China's 27-year-old Chen Long, who won bronze in men's singles at the London 2012 Games. Chen is currently ranked world no. 1.




London 2012 men's singles bronze medalist Chen Long (CHN). Credit: Kyle Terada

London 2012 women's singles gold medalist Li Xuerui is currently the highest-ranked female Chinese player at world no. 3. Li won silver at both the 2013 and 2014 World Championships and has claimed a number of other significant titles over the past four years. She will look to defend her medal in Rio, her second Olympic Games. 

Meanwhile, women's singles bronze medalist Saina Nehwal has also performed extremely well since the last Games. The Indian briefly established herself as world no. 1 last spring and won silver at the World Championships in August. Nehwal finished 2015 ranked world no. 2.

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One should also expect London silver medalist Wang Yihan, who finished 2015 ranked world no. 4, to possibly make a comeback in Rio. 

London men's doubles gold medalists Fu Haifeng and Cai Yun won bronze in the category at the 2013 World Championships. Fu has since partnered with compatriot Zhang Nan; the duo finished 2015 ranked world no. 3 and will likely compete at the Rio Games. 

Since the London Games, bronze medalist Lee Yong-Dae of South Korea has found a new men's doubles partner in Yoo Yeon-Seong. The pair has had a stronghold on the world no. 1 ranking for more than eight months. 

The last Olympics also saw China's Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei take gold, Japan's Mizuki Fujii and Reika Kakiiwa win silver, and Russia's Valeria Sorokina and Nina Vislova earn bronze in women's doubles. Tian and Zhao won doubles gold at the 2014 and 2015 World Championships and will almost certainly compete in Rio. 

Reigning Olympic mixed doubles gold medalists Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei of China won gold in the category at the 2015 World Championships. As of April 2016, they are ranked world no. 1. They are mixed doubles favorites heading into the Rio Games. 

Who's gone:

Men's doubles gold medalist Cai Yun of China may not make it to Rio, as his world ranking has sunk well into the double digits. The same goes for men's doubles bronze medalist Jung Jae-Sung of South Korea, who has retired. 

Denmark's Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen, who won silver in London, continue to play together. However, Mogensen suffered a brain aneurysm in February and underwent intensive surgery. Though the duo hopes to make an appearance at the Rio Games, it will depend on the whether the Danish star fully recovers in time. 

Japan's Mizuki Fujii and Reika Kakiiwa have slipped significantly in the women's doubles rankings and probably won't compete at the upcoming Games. It's also unlikely Russia's Valeria Sorokina and Nina Vislova will defend their medal. 

Speaking of Japan, you probably won't see the current world no. 3 men's singles player Kento Momota at the Rio Games. Momota was involved in a gambling scandal and it would "probably be impossible" for him to participate, according to the Nippon Badminton Association's secretary general.

America has never won an Olympic medal in badminton, though Tony Gunawan and Howard Bach won gold in men's doubles at the 2005 World Championships. The duo competed at the London 2012 Olympics, but both have since retired. 

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Comebacks: 




Two-time men's singles silver medalist Lee Chong Wei (MAS). Credit: Kyle Terada

Following his eight-month suspension, Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei has a lot to prove - especially considering he just missed the top men's singles spot in the two previous Games. Despite his age (he's 34 years old), Lee is ranked world no. 2 as of April 2016. He has a strong shot at claiming Malaysia's first-ever Olympic gold medal.  

Rule changes:

Unlike in previous Games, nations could only enter two singles players per gender for the Rio Olympics. Previous Games have allowed up three singles players per gender for each country; the new rules mean no one country can sweep men's or women's singles. 

Following the doubles badminton scandal in London, the "round robin" competition structure has been modified.

 

Stars on the rise:



Spain's Carolina Marin.

Spain's Carolina Marin. Credit: 2015 Getty Images

Last year, India's Saina Nehwal had one big Spanish obstacle in her way: Carolina Marin, who has catapulted to the top of the world rankings list since the conclusion of the London Games.  Marin began collecting major titles in 2013 and claimed her first World Championship gold in 2014, then defended the title in 2015. She claimed the world no. 1 position last July and finished the year in the top spot, where she has spent the entirety of 2016 (as of April).  

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Top competitions: 

Spain has never won an Olympic medal in badminton - but Carolina Marin could break that streak. Given the already fierce female competition from a diverse group of countries, women's singles could provide the most excitement in Rio.

Whether Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei can compete in an historic third men's singles final remains to be seen. Even if the players don't make it to the tournament's last round, a late-stage showdown would be epic. 

What you've missed since London

Choose a sport for a detailed look at what's changed since the 2012 Olympics drew to a close:

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

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