Retirement marks the end of the long-term dominance of China's men's singles
PETALING JAYA: Olympic Games champion Chen Long’s (pic) retirement marks the end of a golden era of Chinese badminton stars and their dominant presence in the men’s singles event.
The 33-year-old Chen Long’s name has been removed from the Badminton World Federation (BWF) ranking list this month and for the first time in decades, there are no Chinese players in the top 10 standings of the main event.
The other Chinese players in the top 50 are Zhao Junpeng (18), Lu Guangzhou (21), Shi Yuqi (27), and Li Shifeng (34). Former All-England champion Yuqi, who has been plagued by a leg injury, only made a comeback at this year’s World Championships in Tokyo after serving an internal ban.
Chen Long has won many titles, including the 2016 Rio Olympic Games where he broke the heart of Lee Chong Wei in the final, but he had always been overshadowed by his predecessor Lin Dan since he joined the national team in 2008.
In his own quiet and unassuming way, Chen Long has won a staggering 446 wins (matches), including two world titles (2014 and 2015).
He has also played key roles in China’s Thomas Cup victories (2010 Kuala Lumpur, 2012 Wuhan, and 2018 Bangkok), Sudirman Cup (2019 Guangzhou, 2011 Qingdao, 2013 Kuala Lumpur, 2015 Dongguan, and 2019 Nanjing), and Asian Games team victories (2010 Guangzhou, 2018 Jakarta).
His allegiance to his country was never in doubt as he came out from a short break to win a silver at the Tokyo Olympics last year.
Chen Long, who is married to former world No. 1 women’s singles star Wang Shixian, wanted to compete in his last tournament at the Asian Games in Hangzhou this year but decided to call it a day after the Asiad was deferred to next year.
In his absence, China will be banking on old-timer Yuqi and their new generation of players Jungpeng and Guangzhou in the Denmark Open from Oct 18-23 in Odense.
As none of them are seeded, all of them have unfortunately been grouped in the lower half of the draw.
Yuqi faces Anders Antonsen of Denmark in the first round while Jungpeng and Guangzu meet H.S. Prannoy of India and second seed Kento Momota of Japan respectively.
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