The New Zealand contingent of players set to take part in this week’s Badminton World Championships in Guangzhou, China, starting tomorrow (Monday 5 August), have a daunting task ahead of them with the luck of the draw against Kiwis.
The August 5-11 tournament features international sporting starts such as world No1 men’s singles player Lee Chong Wei from Malaysia and Long Chen from China and is played in the 10,000 seat capacity TianHe Indoor Gymnasium with around 400 of the world best players who have to be within certain world rankings to make the main draw of their competition.
New Zealand has eight competitors in four of the five draws, however it will be a tough ask for either Joe Wu (Northland), Kevin Dennerly-Minturn (Auckland), Kritteka Gregory (Waitakere), Anna Rankin (Southland), Oliver Leydon-Davis, Susannah Leydon-Davis, Amanda Brown and Madeleine Stapleton, all Waikato, to make a big impression.
Wu has drawn the short straw and will face the seventh seed Tien Minh Nguyen from Vietnam in the first round of the men’s singles while in the men’s doubles, the pairing of Dennerly-Minturn and Leydon-Davis take on the Germans, Ingo Kindervater and Johannes Schoettler who are ranked at 20 in the world. The Kiwis currently sit at 72nd.
Oliver Leydon-Davis will combine with his sister, Susannah in the mixed competition where they face an Egyptian pair, Mahmoud El Sayad and Nadine Ashraf. The Kiwis are currently 52 in the world with the Egyptians 159th in the latest rankings.
The women’s doubles combinations have tough tasks in their matches as Brown and Gregory who have a ranking of 86 and play a Malaysian pair Hui Ern Ng and Hui Lin Ng who are 26th, while Rankin and Stapleton at 102nd face the Japan’s team of Yuriko Miki and Koharu Yonemoto ranked 21st in the world
The majority of the New Zealand players will return after the world champs to play in the New Zealand provincial teams event, the Wisden Cup to be held at Waitakere, 13-17 August.
The best performance by New Zealanders at the world champs came in 2005 in Anaheim, Los Angeles when Dan Shirley and Sara Runesten-Petersen won a bronze medal in the mixed competition.