Badminton: China Coach Lashes Out Over Walkovers
Wuhan, China. China’s influential head coach Li Yongbo took a swipe at Indonesia in the running controversy over walkovers plaguing badminton, complaining the criticism was exclusively aimed at his players.
“Why, when both Indonesian women’s singles withdraw in one tie and also Lee (Chong Wei), there is no attention on that? Three in one day and nothing,” said Li after his women’s team qualified for the Uber Cup final in Wuhan this week.
“The media only talk about it when it’s China’s players.”
On Tuesday three players retired from their matches in the group ties of the Thomas and Uber Cups.
World number one Lee Chong Wei pulled out of his clash against Denmark’s Peter Gade after he fell awkwardly in what was later confirmed as a minor ligament tear in his ankle.
Indonesia’s Maria Febe Kusumastuti and Lindaweni Fanetri also retired in their singles in the tie against China, which was the last group match and both teams had already qualified to the knock-outs.
Li’s provocations touch on an issue revolving around Chinese players that has tarnished the image of the game: retirements or walkovers when players from the same nation come up against each other.
Critics say China has been doing this more than other teams to boost ranking points.
In the run-up to the London Games, rankings have taken on critical importance. In current Olympic rules, a country can have three players in each singles event if they are ranked among the top four.
China’s women occupy the top three spots in the world rankings, and the men are numbers two, three and four.
Looking at 2011, the online Badzine.net took the results of the main draws of all individual tournaments from the top three levels of competition, the World Championships and World Superseries Finals.
The study found that just over 20 percent of matches between Chinese players were not completed. But when Chinese shuttlers met other nations, the number of retirements and walkovers plummeted to 0.74 percent.
Although China, with the largest number of players on the circuit, are more likely than other nations to meet compatriots in matches, complaints have been filed with the Badminton World Federation (BWF).
In response, the BWF promised to record all matches from the quarter-finals stage onwards to look into irregularities and suspect retirements.
“If compelling evidence is found of any irregularities, the matter will be treated with the utmost gravity by the BWF and severe penalties will be imposed,” a statement last year said.
So far no further action has been taken.
The issue has raised the ire of fans, who even booed superstar Lin Dan when he pulled out of the men’s singles final in Singapore in 2011 against countryman Chen Jin, then languishing in the world number five spot.