Tuesday, February 19, 2019
TEXT BY DEV SUKUMAR | BWF ARCHIVES
Basel in Switzerland will host the TOTAL BWF World Championships 2019 from 19 to 25 August – 24 years after the country last hosted the event.
It was in 1995, Lausanne, that the World Championships last visited Switzerland. It was a time when the Sudirman Cup and the World Championships were conducted together.
Indonesia, winners of the inaugural Sudirman Cup in 1989, had a well-balanced team – boasting such names as Heryanto Arbi, Susi Susanti, Rexy Mainaky, Ricky Subagja and others. But a plucky young Chinese squad spearheaded by Sun Jun and Ye Zhaoying surprised the Indonesians for their first Sudirman Cup title.
Susanti, the Olympic champion, had fallen to Ye Zhaoying in the first match of the final to Ye Zhaoying, and the Indonesians never recovered, crashing 3-0.
The very next week was the World Championships. Susanti, who had in the run-up to the two tournaments adopted a more attacking game, eased into the women’s singles semifinals – but then again ran into her tormentor from the previous week. The Chinese was again well prepared for her legendary opponent, and after a first game win for the Indonesian, Susanti was made to look sluggish as the lanky Chinese eased home 5-11 11-8 11-2.
“There were gaps in all corners of her court – and I found them,” said the world No.6 from China.
The other semifinal would see the Olympic runner-up, Bang Soo Hyun, fall to another Chinese, Han Jingna. Ye Zhaoying broke no sweat in swatting aside her compatriot 11-7 11-0 in the final.
In men’s singles, top seed Heryanto Arbi had recovered from his Sudirman Cup loss to Sun Jun and made his way into the final without dropping a game.
The other half of the draw saw a painful end to Thomas Stuer-Lauridsen’s career. Having stormed past Rashid Sidek (Malaysia) 15-10 15-1 in the quarterfinals, Lauridsen continued to fly high against Korea’s Park Sung Woo. Up a game and 5-1, he went for a round-the-head shot and crumbled to the floor in pain – his knee having given way.
Park proved a feisty competitor in the fast-paced final. The Korean had leads in both games, but Arbi upped the pace when he had to, and he closed it out 15-11 15-8.
Indonesia had another triumph to savour – in men’s doubles – through Rexy Mainaky and Ricky Subagja. The Indonesians followed up on their success at the World Grand Prix and All England titles with the World Championships gold – without dropping a game in Lausanne. A 15-8 15-6 semifinal win over Malaysia’s Cheah Soon Kit/Yap Kim Hock was followed by an even more impressive 15-5 15-2 victory over Denmark’s Thomas Lund/Jon Holst-Christensen.
In women’s doubles, Gil Young Ah/Jang Hye Ock made history as they became the first Korean women’s doubles pair to win the World Championships.
This they did in a well-contested final against Indonesia’s Finarsih/Lili Tampi, 3-15 15-11 15-10.
The Koreans had earlier stopped China’s Ge Fei/Gu Jun and Qin Yiyuan/Tang Hetian in the previous two rounds.
The final witnessed see-sawing fortunes, as the Koreans ran up a 12-1 lead in the second game, but the Indonesians recovered to 10-12, rattling the Koreans. Gil Young Ah attempted to break their momentum with a towel break – for which she was warned by the umpire – but it served to distract the Indonesians. The critical point won, the Koreans went on to dominate the remainder of the match and capture a historic gold.
The mixed doubles was expectedly won by Denmark’s Thomas Lund/Marlene Thomsen, who had won 11 tournaments in a row and were unbeaten in 18 months previously.
Still, the favourites only narrowly scraped through their semifinal against Sweden’s Jan-Eric Antonsson/Astrid Crabo after facing match point, and then proved too good for compatriots Jens Eriksen/Helene Kirkegaard in the final, 15-2 15-6.
Basel will once again host the world’s best players as they seek glory. Additionally, Basel will also have the privilege of hosting the world’s best Para badminton players for the Para Badminton World Championships – the first time the two events are being held together.
Lausanne 1995 in Numbers
(World Championships & Sudirman Cup)
Number of Players: 554
Countries Represented: 60
Shuttles Used: 9516
Average Shuttles Per Match: 9.19
Matches Played (WC): 627
Matches Played (SC): 409