Let's take a look at the "Men's Singles Badminton Event" at the Tokyo Olympics and try and list down who the favorites are going into the tournament.
With the Tokyo Olympics (23rd July 2021 - 8th August 2021) less than 50 days away, we are putting up articles on various sports as a build up for this mega event. We are covering Men's Single Badminton under this series in this article.
Men's Badminton Event in the Olympics:
Men's badminton was first introduced as an Olympic sport in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Traditionally, the Asian powerhouses China & Indonesia have dominated this event, winning six of the seven gold medals so far. The legendary Lin Dan of China won the Olympic gold twice (2008 & 2012).
The only gold medal won by a non-Asian country in this badminton event was in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, when Denmark clinched the yellow medal.
In this year's event, a total of 40 players will play first in a round of robin league, followed by knockouts from the last 16. At present, the men's singles badminton field is a highly competitive one. It is no longer dominated by the Chinese with only one Chinese player in the top 10 at present.
There are quite a few shuttlers who are very closely matched and choosing a favorite from them is not at all an easy task. We are still trying to do it, based on their current form and stature.
#1: World No. 1 Kento Momota (Japan)
This left-handed genius from Japan has been the man to beat in the men's badminton circuit for the last 3-4 years. He is the current World and Asian Champion and has won a whole lot of BWF super series badminton tournaments also. He will be keen to win his first Olympic gold in front of his home crowd.
Momota is surely the overwhelming favorite to win the men's badminton event this year considering his form going into the tournament.
#2: World No. 5 Chen Long (China)
Chen Long, the defending champion and one of the all-time greats of the game, will definitely be considered as one of the favorites. He is one of the most experienced badminton players in this year's tournament and that will be a big help for him in big match situations.
Although Chen Long is well past his prime, he is still a force to be reckoned with. If he is able to win in Tokyo, then he will become the most successful men's badminton player in the history of Olympics, with 2 golds and 1 bronze in his kitty.
#3: The Danish Duo: Victor Axelsen (World No. 2) and Anders Antonsen (World no. 3)
The experienced Victor Axelsen and the young Aanders Antonsen will carry Denmark's hopes of winning a 2nd Olympic gold medal in this event. Both of these Danish superstars are capable of going all the way in winning a gold medal.
Victor Axelsen has been the 2nd best player on the circuit after Momota, for the last 3-4 years. He has been super consistent and won major badminton events like the All England and other Super Series events. If he carries on his good form, then he can surely be counted as one of the favorites to win the gold medal.
Antonsen, on the other hand, has been the most improved young badminton player in the last 2 years. He is the present European champion and also won the prestigious Danish Open. On his day he can beat anybody in the world and if he is at the top of his game, then he will be a force to reckon with.
#4: The Dark Horses: Chou Tein Chen (World no 4), Anthony Ginting (World no 6) & Lee Jil Zia (World No 8)
Young stars Anthony Ginting and Lee Jil Zia, the current All England Badminton Champion, are the two biggest dark horses of this tournament. Both of these two players are exceptionally talented and have an excellent all round game which can trouble any opponent.
They are also big match players and have a great giant killing record. If they are able to do so, then they are very much in with a chance to win a gold medal.
Chou Tein Chen, on the other hand, is a very composed and experienced badminton player but lacks the killer instinct at times. But he still has to be considered a dark horse, because of his experience and consistency at the highest level.