赵芸蕾是她那个时代最全能的双打运动员。 在很长一段时间内，她在混双和女双两个项目中的统治地位无人能及。退役后， 她成为了史上最优秀的羽毛球运动员之一——细数她职业生涯中所获得的冠军头衔，包括两枚奥运会金牌和五枚世锦赛金牌。
The Badminton World Federation (BWF) is excited to reveal there will be an additional four stops on the BWF World Tour from 2023 to 2026 as part of expansion plans announced today.
The 31-event new World Tour calendar, which includes the year end BWF World Tour Finals, will see more Super 1000, Super 750, and Super 500 tournaments, bringing greater prize money opportunities for players.
The announcement caps an exciting bid process which saw healthy interest from all host bidders.
BWF Secretary General Thomas Lund said the BWF World Tour 2023-2026 promises to elevate the status of badminton globally.
“Badminton is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world with all-time high participation and fan numbers. More tournaments give us a fantastic opportunity to enhance the sport’s reach around the world, not only in established territories, but into new ones as well. It also allows for more players to enter our elite circuit and gain valuable experience,” he said.
“We were very encouraged by the large number of high-quality bids we received and that bodes well for a bigger and better tour across the next four years. It enables us to commit to higher prize money, greater coverage on television and online, and spectacular presentation, all contributing to an enhanced world-class sports product that we seek.”
Lund confirmed there would be no change to current player commitment obligations.
The expansion is bankrolled by a significant investment from BWF and commercial partner Infront over four years.
A host for the season-ending BWF World Tour Finals will be announced at a later date. BWF Tour Super 100 hosts will also be announced separately.
Indonesian mixed doubles legend Liliyana Natsir is the latest inductee into the BWF Hall of Fame. The Olympic champion will be officially recognised at a ceremony during the EAST VENTURES Indonesia Open 2022 on Saturday 18 June.
Natsir won four mixed doubles World Championships titles with two different partners and achieved a career high at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games claiming mixed doubles gold.
BWF President Poul-Erik Høyer lauded Natsir’s achievements.
“It is a rare honour for an athlete to be named to the BWF Hall of Fame, and Liliyana Natsir richly deserves this accolade,” Høyer said.
“She was among the very best mixed doubles players throughout her career. With an Olympic gold and silver, and four World Championships gold medals, Liliyana built a stellar record.
“She was a delight to watch as she somehow made a very difficult art look easy. I congratulate her on making the BWF Hall of Fame, and I’m sure that she will continue to inspire many more generations.”
With her unique, unfussy style and tremendous record over more than a decade, Liliyana Natsir is a standout figure of world badminton. Natsir’s first major title was World Championships gold in 2005 with the technically gifted Nova Widianto. The duo had a string of successes, winning the World Cup and the Asian Championships the next year, another World Championships gold in 2007, before winning silver at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Natsir was then paired with Tontowi Ahmad and the two quickly established a strong partnership. Despite the change in style of her partner, Natsir adapted well. The new partnership won bronze at the 2011 World Championships before eclipsing that at the World Championships in 2013, taking gold from two match points down in the final, and the World Championships in 2017. Gold at the Rio Olympics in 2016, on top of three straight All England crowns, established Natsir in the pantheon of greats.
Liliyana will be recognised at a ceremony at the Istora Senayan on Saturday 18 June.
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We present Episode 1 of our new Fanatics of TotalEnergies series. First up we’re in Bangkok as locals Sapsiree Taerattanachai and Kunlavut Vitidsarn take Greysia Polii and and Toma Junior Popov around town during the TotalEnergies BWF Thomas and Uber Cup Finals 2022.
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Bright lights, vibrant music and dancing girls greeted participants on Day 1 of the Thai Para Badminton International 2022.
After introduction to the 25 teams, the event was declared open by Chukiat Singsung, President of the Sports Association for the Disabled of Thailand Under the Royal Patronage of His Majesty The King, and Krisana Boonsawad, the Pattaya City Deputy Mayor.
The first of the group matches were heated from the get-go as Paralympic champions were challenged by rising talents across all categories.
Standing Up to the Challenge
“It’s the longest match I’ve ever played,” said Kumar. “I’ve been feeling more comfortable with a new prosthetic as well so apart from maybe Pramod (Bhagat) and Daniel (Bethell) I’m confident I can take on the rest.”
Englishman Bethell, who has been on a winning streak this year, came off the court with an easy 21-15 21-6 win over India’s Umesh Vikram Kumar.
“I was pretty disappointed by the silver in Tokyo so in the off season my team and I worked to fill the gaps. We analysed my matches at the Paralympics and are trying to fix everything that went wrong. The aim to is change the colour of the medal to gold in Paris.
“All the top guys are here so it will be the hardest tournament this year but it will also be a good test before we head to the World Championships in November.”
“It’s always hard playing Krysten. He’s strong and experienced but I kept my focus and followed my coach’s instructions to not make unforced errors,” said Tavares. “I’ve got a lot more to improve on but I’m feeling confident. This is my tournament.”
Lucas Mazur had a 21-11 21-15 win over Jan-Niklas Pott in the SL4 men’s singles, but it took him and Faustine Noel three games to defeat Thais Darunee Henpraiwan/Pricha Somsiri in the SL3-SU5 mixed doubles 21-8 17-21 21-10.
Battle of the Best
Korea and Japan continue to battle for the top spots in the wheelchair events.
Was Zheng expressing genuine concern or was it just exaggerated modesty? After all, the Chinese duo had racked up 30 straight match wins since they got together in late April for the Badminton Asia Championships.
In those 30 matches, only twice were they in danger of losing – to Yuta Watanabe/Arisa Higashino at the Thailand Open, and Yang Po-Hsuan/Hu Ling Fang at the Malaysia Masters. It was the second instance that Zheng was referring to.
“For example,” continued Zheng, “Our opponents’ strategy worked well against us and we were at a disadvantage. Honestly, we had no time to watch our videos and analyse our play. We need to go back, analyse our game and decide on an appropriate training plan.”
As the TotalEnergies BWF World Championships 2022 approaches, Zheng and Huang are a near-certainty for the title, but their own expectations will be tempered by what happened last year, when they fell in the final of the Tokyo Olympics.
A silver medal at the Olympics is no mean achievement, but for Zheng and Huang, that loss has defined their journey over the following year. They were paired up with new partners, with mixed success, and their journey together had appeared to come to an anti-climactic and premature end.
“The Asian Championships was very crucial, that was maybe the first tournament that got us fired up. Winning that title gave us confidence and motivated us a lot,” said Zheng.
While Zheng and Huang were already a great pair in their first stint, they now appear more driven. What explains their insatiable hunger?
“I don’t think we’re unbeatable,” said Huang. “But we’ve prepared very well. We’ve matured a lot and are more stable. We tried different tactics with different partners, which helped us understand our own strengths, so when we got together once again we could use these strengths to get better as a partnership.”
With unflagging physical intensity, and their refusal to be satisfied with what they’ve achieved, the duo are on their way to setting many more landmarks. The loss at Tokyo had hurt¸ but it was also a wake-up call of sorts.
“Of course our loss at the Olympic Games had a big impact on us,” said Zheng. “It hurt us and made us determined, and taught us to be more stable mentally.”
Para badminton athletes are in the lively beachfront town of Jomtien, south of Pattaya City, for the Thailand Para Badminton International 2022.
Scheduled from 16 to 20 August, 170 players from 25 countries will take to the courts at the Eastern National Sports Centre, a complex that also houses a running track and a football field.
“It’s spacious but underused. We’ve had to do a lot of cleaning up to make it ready for this event,” said tournament director Paisan Rangsikitpho.
Efforts to prepare for the competition have included bringing in staff experienced at organising other international badminton tournaments, the most recent being the TotalEnergies Thomas and Uber Cup Finals in Bangkok.
“We want to be able to provide a higher level of tournament for Para badminton players and this has involved training staff and volunteers, as well as local lines judges to make sure we meet the international standards of competition.”
The large hall has been set up with three courts for standing matches and two wheelchair courts, and has enough space for six practice courts within the same floor.
“It just means the athletes arrive into one venue and prepare in the match environment, without having to go outside or anywhere else.
“With the support of the Pattaya City government, we have plans to host more international Para badminton events here soon and maybe regularly to promote the sport.”
Thailand with 21 players are world beaters across the categories but will be without Tokyo 2020 women’s doubles Wheelchair (WH1-2) bronze medallist Amnouy Wetwithan.
The largest contingent is India with 22 players but they too will be without their Short Stature (SH6) star, Paralympic men’s singles gold medallist Nagar Krishna.
Competition is still expected to be fiery as there is no shortage of world and Paralympic champions on the roster, including Japan’s Daiki Kajiwara and Yuma Yamazaki, Korea’s Kim Jungjun, India’s Pramod Bhagat, France’s Lucas Mazur and England’s Rachel Choong, to name a few.
“While I am on the high of winning a gold medal at the CWG for India, unfortunately I have to pull out of the world championships,” Pusarla told fans in a social media statement on 13 August.
Following a fortuitous trip to Birmingham, the 27-year-old said she was in pain before and during the final.
— Pvsindhu (@Pvsindhu1) August 13, 2022
“I felt pain and there was an injury scare before the quarterfinals of the CWG, but with the help of my coach, physio and trainer, I decided to push as far as I could,” she added.
Following an MRI, a medical team confirmed a stress fracture in her left foot and has since recommended the two-time Olympic medallist bed rest.
The world No.7 was hoping to add another world championships gold to her mantelpiece, given her spectacular form in 2022 after scooping titles at the Singapore Open, Swiss Open and the Syed Modi International 2022.
One result that stands out in an otherwise modest season for Thet Htar Thuzar is her defeat of Michelle Li at the Korea Masters in April. As the world No.73 prepares for the TotalEnergies BWF World Championships 2022, she will hope to display the wares that helped her beat the world No.13. In Tokyo, she takes on another Canadian, Zhang Wen Yu, in the opening round.
“After the last World Championships I was training with my father. In April I started going for tournaments beginning with the Korea Masters. I won my first round with Michelle Li, it was a good achievement. My training was good. My body condition was also quite good. I played well and I could beat her,” says the soft-spoken Burmese.
With limited sparring opportunities in Myanmar, Thet has spent frequent training stints in Malaysia, where she is part of a Badminton Asia programme. She also pursues her own training at Serdang BC.
The last couple of years have been challenging, with COVID disrupting the circuit and with a crisis in her homeland. She had had some promising results in 2020 before the onset of the pandemic, with a title win at the Uganda International being a highlight. She played just two events the following year – the Olympic Games in Tokyo and the World Championships in Spain. This year has been better, as she returned to competition in April and played six events in the run-up to the World Championships.
“Badminton Asia have been supporting me for the last few years. The goal is now Paris 2024. For the last two years, I’ve been trying to get my ranking up. Before COVID happened, my ranking was 57, but since then I have dropped to 73, so now I’m trying to get my ranking up and playing well on the World Tour. I get a lot of support from my family and my friends and the people around me, but when I got for tournaments the main challenge is about the funding.”
Despite the challenges, Thet is thrilled to be on the circuit, finding meaning in the places she visits and the people she meets.
“As I go to international tournaments, I meet a lot of people. It’s great to get in touch with people around the world. It’s good for me to communicate with other players, and people in other countries. I have a lot of friends around the world. The lesson that badminton has taught me is that if you can’t achieve anything you want, you just have to try for it again and again.”
In his first-ever gig as a commentator at the Indonesia Open 2022, Scotsman Adam Hall revealed to BWF how sitting aside the voice of badminton, ticked off a huge badminton bucket list for his.
“I received a phone call about commentating on a men’s double match about six hours before the match. My only homework from Gill (Clark) was how to say Sukamuljo correctly. I could not have been more excited beforehand,” exclaimed Hall.
A commentator’s job is to offer further details, insider knowledge, and, unsurprisingly, comments about current events to fans to enhance their viewer experience. Hall was brought on board to add an element of colour and player insight, drawing on his own experiences as a current player.
Guided by lead commentator, Clark, Hall felt he was able to hit the ground running as he climbed the steep steps of the Istora, through the fans and prepared to pick up his cans (headphones), accompanied by notes and preparation advice. The tandem commentated on the third round match between home heroes Marcus Fernaldi Gideon/Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo and Kang Min Hyuk/Seung Hee Seo.
“Gill made it easy for me to get involved and before we started commentating, Gill told me: ‘It’s just two badminton fans having a chat about a game of badminton,’ which put me at ease. I didn’t do any warm-ups but I have been known to speak too fast so I really had to make an effort to slow down and put on my poshest Scottish accent,” the Scot laughed.
Part of what makes for a good sports commentator is; delivery – speaking well and clearly; knowledge – knowing your player profiles, tournament information, number of titles, number of quarterfinals/semifinals reached on home soil/overall, and thirdly, match analysis.
What an amazing 1st Indonesia trip! I'm not 100% happy with my level over the 2 weeks but I now know what needs to get better 😎 The atmosphere in Istora was something I've never experienced before, thank you for all of the support and lovely messages 😍 I'll definitely be back💪 pic.twitter.com/bgwDlm4ghV
— Adam Hall (@adam_Hall1996) June 18, 2022
“I hate listening to myself talk normally, but I have listened to some of it back to make sure I didn’t speak too fast. It was fun to have the opportunity to commentate with a legend of badminton. It was really cool to see behind the scenes and be in the booth. It’s crazy just how much research Gill has and how she keeps track of the games and player profiles. She really is one of the best commentators in any sport around the world and I really hope I can get involved again. I love badminton, so it’s a win-win for me to be involved in this. I’m really grateful.”
Asked if Hall would like to be invited again to commentate, the European silver medallist replied:
“Yes I’d love to do this more often, it was a really fun experience. I love talking and analysing. Any time Gill will have me, I’ll be there.”
Hall will be back in action at the TotalEnergies BWF World Championships 2022 alongside men’s doubles partner, Alexander Dunn, where they face Job Castillo/Montoya Navarro from Mexico in the first round.
There’s a certain meditative calm about HS Prannoy these days. After every rally, he seems to withdraw into himself, shutting himself off from the tumult around. His steps in between points are slow and deliberate; he doesn’t even celebrate the way he used to.
To consistently deliver in the fifth match of a team event requires nerve. Prannoy did that not once, not twice, but in four matches, anchoring India’s historic title-winning campaign at the Thomas Cup.
Since then, Prannoy has carried that same calm on court as he made semifinals at the Indonesia Open and the Malaysia Masters. While Prannoy has always had the physical and technical ability for this level, the Indian has upped his game in the mental department.
As he prepares for the TotalEnergies BWF World Championships 2022, Prannoy details just exactly has how he has gone about it.
Excerpts from a recent interview:
Tell us about the work that you’ve been doing, on the mental side.
I’ve been working with a company called Invictus; it’s related to strength and conditioning. They have something on the behavioural side as well, working on psychology and breathing and the mental side of the game.
They have everything in one place. All my needs are taken care of – strength and conditioning, food, my mental conditioning. I just started mental conditioning six months ago, but I was working with strength and conditioning earlier, since 2019.
How do you work with them when you’re travelling?
We get on call every single day. We try to be consistent because I’m very bad with breathing and focus, and I tried to skip many sessions. This is one thing I’m uncomfortable doing. To sit for 20 or 30 minutes is really tough to do breathing (exercises), to be focused on what they’re saying. When I started I realised that you have so many things to do in a breathing session and in a focus session and I think that slowly built up the patience and the trust to work on something very different.
That is one thing I needed, to be focused throughout the game. The mind needs to be in the present but a lot of times the mind keeps wandering here and there, especially in crowds like the Istora. We think so many things which are not needed and you will not realise that five points have gone in a flash, and that’s where the game slips. I had a lot of experience like that in the past so I thought this was one thing which I needed to work on.
I now feel much more focused throughout the game. The results are probably 10 per cent better than what I had from last September, so there’s a lot of scope. It works. People will generally neglect this side of the game but I think it’s really important.
Gopichand used to talk about these things as well when he was playing… so how new is this practice?
This is different, I’d never done this in my life. I started doing this because I had pain in my ribs and I wanted to try everything. My breathing was all over the place.
How does breathing help during a match? Is it only about calming yourself down?
To calm yourself down; it’s also very important that you have a very systematic way of breathing; it just cannot be up and down and very very fast. I used to breathe really fast. I needed to calm down a little bit.
Isn’t breathing something you let happen automatically rather than controlling?
It’s something which has been with you throughout your life and it’s automatic, but if you work on it there’s a lot of scope to get better, and you will know that you are breathing much slower, and then your heartbeat gets much slower whenever you’re on court.
Otherwise when you’re having a big match, at 14-all or 15-all you can feel your heart rate going higher, to 160 or 165, even though you’re not tired. But because of the breathing techniques and the things we’re working on, it helps me to be a little bit more focused on the game. At the end of the day more than breathing it’s about how much you can be focussed. Through breathing we’re trying to get to that level.
So it’s not just to calm yourself; breathing has a physical impact as well, on how tired you’re feeling, for instance?
Maybe… I don’t know. But then it’s a process where you prepare yourself; it’s not something which you do for a day and get right. I’ve been doing it for the last six months and am probably 5 per cent better, but there’s a lot of space where you can improve your lung capacity and all those things which you can work side by side through training. We generally neglect it. I wanted give it a shot. It has helped in me being a little bit calmer and sleeping better at night.
Is expertise on this topic new to India?
It is. It’s just coming up. There are not many places where these kinds of things are happening, and you need the right people also. It’s about how much they understand you as a player and as an individual, because I’ve worked with a lot of psychologists. They get into a lot of off-court activities which doesn’t help. I would say you just need to stick with what makes you play better on court.