Wednesday, May 6, 2015
Text by Dev Sukumar | Badmintonphoto
At least ten beneficiaries of BWF’s Player Development Fund have made the Phase I eligibility list of the TOTAL BWF World Championships, to be held in Jakarta from 10 to 16 August 2015.
Now in its third year, the Player Development Fund has been instituted to provide competition opportunities, training and expert advice to players from less-developed badminton nations. The aim of the Fund is to enable players to compete in elite events.
The eligible players include Kevin Cordon (Guatemala), Osleni Guerrero (Cuba; below), Daniel Paiola (Brazil), Alex Yuwan Tjong (Brazil) and Edwin Ekiring (Uganda) in Men’s Singles and Line Kjaersfeldt (Denmark), Vu Thi Trang (Vietnam), Fabiana Silva (Brazil), Lohaynny Vicente (Brazil; left) and Grace Gabriel (Nigeria; featured image) in Women’s Singles.
BWF’s Development Director Ian Wright saw their qualification as vindication of the development efforts undertaken by the world body in conjunction with continental confederations.
“One of the key objectives of the Development Fund was to assist talented players from developing and less developed regions and create opportunities for international competition and access to expertise. The continental confederations have worked hard on this front, so it’s good to see the hard work paying off. The project is in the early stages of development but we hope to build on these encouraging results to ensure talented players from all regions have the opportunity to qualify for major events.” said Wright.
“It’s also heartening to see that Brazil’s players have been climbing up the rankings. It would be good for badminton’s legacy at the Rio Games if someone like Lohaynny Vicente were to perform well. Hopefully, these players will inspire others from their regions and show them what’s possible to achieve.”
Meanwhile, Phase 1 of the eligibility list, announced by BWF last Friday (1 May), saw China secure four places in Mixed Doubles.
A member association (MA) is allowed a maximum of four places if all four players/pairs are ranked in the top eight; three places if they are ranked in the top 24; or two places if they are ranked in the top 150. While China missed out having four representatives in the other four categories, they comfortably made the grade in Mixed Doubles thanks to superlative recent performances. Reigning World champions Zhang Nan/Zhao Yunlei (1), Xu Chen/Ma Jin (2), Liu Cheng/Bao Yixin (5) and Lu Kai/Huang Yaqiong (6) ensured China’s overwhelming presence in this category.
Other prominent pairs like Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir (Indonesia), Joachim Fischer Nielsen/Christinna Pedersen (Denmark), Chris Adcock/Gabrielle Adcock (England) and Ko Sung Hyun/Kim Ha Na (Korea) are also in the top eight of the Phase 1 list in Mixed Doubles.
Andries Malan/Jennifer Fry (South Africa, No.109; left) and Robin Middleton/Leanne Choo (Australia, No.123) have also made the list through the Continental Representation quota as the highest ranked representatives of Africa and Pan Am respectively. Each of the five continental confederations is entitled representation by at least one player/pair in each of the five categories.
China have done impressively in other categories too, ensuring three places each in Men’s Singles, Women’s Singles, Men’s Doubles and Women’s Doubles.
The Phase 1 list was based on the world rankings of the last Thursday of April. By the second Thursday of May, member associations are required to inform BWF on whether or not eligible players in Phase 1 will enter. By the third Thursday of May, BWF will indicate the MAs on the players/pairs that are eligible in Phase 2. On the same day, BWF will also publish the Reserves List of at least 16 players/pairs to replace any player/pair that withdraws, or in case of any vacancies in the draw. The MAs are required to confirm eligible players/pairs in the Phase 2 and Reserves List by the fourth Thursday of May. Confirmation to players from the Reserves List will be made on the first Monday of June.
Five-time Men’s Singles World champion Lin Dan, who failed to qualify last year, is certain to make the grade this time as he is ranked No.2 below current World champion and Chinese compatriot Chen Long. Former No.1 Lee Chong Wei is not eligible in Phase 1 as he is ranked No.45, behind Malaysian compatriots Chong Wei Feng (No.31) and Zulfadli Zulkiffli (No.41). Kevin Cordon (Guatemala, No.49), Edwin Ekiring (Uganda, No.159; below) and Daniel Guda (Australia, No.202) secured their places through the Continental Representation quota from Pan Am, Africa and Oceania respectively.
Women’s Singles reigning champion Carolina Marin (Spain) is ranked No.3 behind Li Xuerui (China) and Saina Nehwal (India). China also have Wang Shixian (No.5) and Wang Yihan (No.8). Reflecting the diversity of nationalities in Women’s Singles are Tai Tzu Ying (Chinese Taipei, No.4), Ratchanok Intanon (Thailand, No.6) and Sung Ji Hyun (Korea, No.7).
The Continental representatives are Grace Gabriel (Nigeria, No.76) for Africa and Joy Lai (Australia, No.104; below) for Oceania.
Reigning Men’s Doubles World champions Ko Sung Hyun/Shin Baek Choel (No.11) have earned eligibility as the third ranked Korean pair behind Lee Yong Dae/Yoo Yeon Seong (No.1) and Kim Gi Jung/Kim Sa Rang (No.9) although they haven’t been seen in action this year. Apart from China and Korea, three pairs each from Indonesia, Japan and Denmark too have made the list as they are ranked in the top 24.
Andries Malan/Willem Viljoen (South Africa, No.85) and Matthew Chau/Sawan Serasinghe (Australia, No.111) are the Continental representatives who have made the list from Africa and Oceania respectively.
No.1 pair Ayaka Takahashi/Misaki Matsutomo are the favourites from among the non-Chinese pairs in Women’s Doubles; the Japanese will hope to repeat their trophy-winning success from the BWF Destination Dubai World Superseries Finals 2014 and the Yonex-Sunrise India Open 2015.
Olympic and World champions Tian Qing/Zhao Yunlei head a clutch of Chinese pairs favoured to retain the crown. Yu Yang/Wang Xiaoli and Luo Ying/Luo Yu too have made the list ahead of equally formidable compatriots such as Yu Xiaohan/Ou Dongni (No.10), Ma Jin/Tang Yuanting (No.19) and Bao Yixin/Tang Jinhua (No.21).
There will be no wild cards for the event, with BWF deciding not to use its quota in any of the five categories.
Indonesia too will not issue any wild cards since the hosts have players in all five categories.