Twin towers: On China, India and badminton 

China dominated in both men’s and women’s team events in badminton 

May 07, 2024 12:15 am | Updated 07:48 am IST

China has underlined its badminton supremacy by clinching the Thomas and Uber Cup titles at home in Chengdu. The Asian powerhouse repeated its feat of 2012 — to win both the men’s and women’s crowns in the same year. The vanquished finalist in both categories was another highflyer, Indonesia, losing 1-3 in the men’s division and 0-3 in the women’s. With less than three months left for the Paris Olympics, the twin successes marks China out as the clear favourite. Of the two, the men’s victory will taste sweeter. After winning five straight times from 2004 to 2012, the heavyweight secured just one trophy from the five subsequent editions. At Bangkok in 2022, it did not even make the podium. But led by World No. 2 Shi Yu Qi — who won all six of his singles matches — China took home the top prize for the 11th time in history. For the women, it was about overcoming the blip of losing to South Korea in the 2022 summit clash. Leading into this year’s competition, China had won 10 of the previous 13 Uber Cups. And with four players in the singles top-8 and three pairs in the doubles top-5, it bulldozed its way through to the title, winning 24 straight matches.

For India, the Thomas Cup acted as a stocktaking exercise ahead of the Olympics while the Uber Cup was used as a platform to blood the next generation. The experience in the former was bittersweet, for India was the defending champion but its campaign ended in the last-eight with a 1-3 defeat to China. Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, Asian Games doubles gold medallists and among the favourites for Paris, lost two high-profile matches, to Indonesia in the last group-stage tie and China. However, H.S. Prannoy and Lakshya Sen turned in noteworthy performances. Against Indonesia, Prannoy defeated 2020 Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist and 2024 All England Open finalist Anthony Ginting, a confidence booster in an on-and-off season. Versus China, Lakshya overcame the 2023 All England champion Li Shi Feng, for the fourth time in five matches, furthering an uptick in form since the European swing in early March, ahead of his first-ever Olympic Games. The young Indian women’s side emerged with a lot of credit even though it lost 0-5 to China in the last league contest and 0-3 to Japan in the quarters. It was baptism by fire for the likes of Anmol Kharb, Isharani Baruah, Tanvi Sharma and Ashmita Chaliha, a steep learning curve that will hold them in good stead.

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