Tokyo Olympics 2020: Top Contenders for the Gold Medal in Badminton Women's Singles Event
Badminton was first introduced as an Olympic sport in the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games. From the very beginning, China has been the most dominant nation in badminton, in terms of winning Olympic medals.They have won the maximum number of medals (41 in total) , and are way ahead of Indonesia and Korea, who are the joint second highest medal winners (19 medals).
In the Olympic Games, there are a total of 5 badminton events. They are as follows.
1) Women's Singles
2) Men's Singles
3) Women's Doubles
4) Men's Doubles
5) Mixed Doubles
With the 2020 Tokyo Olympics less than a year away, we try and look at one badminton event at a time, in the following series of articles. In this first article of the series, we take a look at the Women's Singles Event.
In the first decade of the 21st century, the Women's singles event was dominated by the legendary Chinese shuttlers viz. Zhang Ning, Gong Zhichao, Xie Xingfang, Li Xuerui and Wang Yihan. They won 4 consecutive Olympic gold medals from 2000-2012.
However in the last decade, players from other countries like Japan, India, Korea, Spain and Chinese Taipei have come up and broken the Chinese dominance in the Women's Singles event. As a result of this, in the 2016 Rio Olympics, no Chinese shuttler was able to win a medal in the Women's Singles event. The gold, silver and bronze medals in this event went to Carolina Marin (Spain), PV Sindhu (India) and Nozomi Okuhara (Japan) respectively.
At present, the Women's singles field is a highly competitive one. The top ten shuttlers in the event are very closely matched and on a given day, anybody can come out as a winner. So it is very difficult to predict the 2020 Tokyo Olympic medal winners . However based on current form and the past records in big tournaments, we try and list out the probable favourites in this event.
#1 World Number 1: Tai Tzu Ying (Chinese Taipei)
In the last three years, in women's singles, Tai Tzu Ying has been the player to beat. She has been the number 1 player in the world for almost 2 years. She has dominated her opponents and won almost all the major tournaments. Because of her mesmerizing skills, she is a treat to watch.
However, an Olympic medal is the only major medal missing from her kitty. So Tai will surely give her very best in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, in trying to win the elusive Olympic gold medal. She will definitely go into the event as one of the favourites to win the gold.
#2 Japanese Badminton Queens: Nozomi Okuhara and Akane Yamaguchi
These two Japanese badminton stars are presently ranked number 2 and 3 in the world. They have been instrumental in making Japan a powerhouse in women's badminton. They have won most of the major badminton events between themselves, like the World Championships, the All England Championships and the Superseries Events.
With both these players at the peak of their careers, Japanese badminton fans will definitely hope that one of them will go all the way, and win the first Olympic gold for Japan in this event.
#3 The Golden Girls of India: PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal
The golden girls of Indian badminton, PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal will also go into the Tokyo Olympics as two of the favourites to win a medal. PV Sindhu, the current World Number 5, is a player who thrives on the big stage as evidenced by the multiple medals in World Championships and an Olympic medal in her kitty. With experience and maturity, SIndhu has become more consistent in the last few years. So she is definitely one of the favourites to win the gold at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Saina Nehwal, on the other hand, is in the twilight of her illustrious career and it will be difficult for her to beat the top players. But because of her vast experience and big-match temperament, she will be a dark horse to win a medal in Tokyo.
#4 Defending Champion: Carolina Marin (Spain)
The defending Olympic champion, Carolina Marin has not been in good form in recent years and is currently on a long injury lay-off. But she has the best record in big tournaments, among all the present shuttlers. She will definitely aim to regain her form and bring out her very best in order to defend her Olympic crown. So Marin will also be a favourite at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
#5 The Rising Chinese Star: Chen Yufei
This 21-year-old Chinese shuttler is the present All England Open champion and the World Number 4. She is the biggest hope for the Chinese fans in the Women's Singles event as validated by her stupendous rise in the last couple of years.
Chen Yufei is one of the best young stars of world badminton and going into next year's Olympics in Tokyo, she will definitely be one of the favourites to win the gold medal.