Former Olympic and world champion Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia will renew his rivalry with reigning Olympic and world champ Lin Dan of China this week at the Asian Badminton Championship staged under heavy security New Delhi.
The Asia championship,starting April 14 after two days of qualifying,will be without some other top Asian shuttlers,including defending men’s champion Bao Chun Lai of China who is preparing for the showpiece Thomas Cup and Uber Cup team tournaments scheduled for Malaysia next month.
Lin,winner of the 2008 Olympic gold and the past three World championships,has enjoyed an edge against Hidayat in recent competitions.
Hidayat,ranked No. 5 in the world and the reigning Asian Games gold medalist,leads the Indonesian challenge and has been given thetop-seeding in men’s singles,while Lin is seeded second.
After his hat-trick of world titles,Lin is currently No. 4 in the world rankings.
Hidayat is seeking to play down his rivalry with Lin,who he beat in the final of the 2006 Asian Games in Doha.
“We both have a competitive attitude. Our on-court rivalry is an appreciation of the each-other’s talent,” says Hidayat,who won the Asian championships men’s singles in 2000,2004 and 2007.
Hidayat said he is eager to win more titles.
“I have random pictures in my memory of my three Asian championship triumphs. I remember feeling ecstatic,” said Hidayat.
India’s Saina Nehwal,currently ranked sixth in the world,has been top-seeded in the women’s singles in the absence of the Chinese players who occupy the top five places in world rankings and have decided to focus on their training for the Uber Cup.
Posing a stiff challenge to Nehwal would be second-seeded Zhou Mi of Hong Kong.
Lin’s last World championship came seven months ago in the southern Indian city if Hyderabad,where the tournament was shifted after construction work at New Delhi’s Siri Fort Badminton Stadium fell behind schedule.
The Siri Fort Stadium is among several venues in the Indian capital that are being refurbished or constructed for this year’s Commonwealth Games. Work at most venues began behind schedule and construction deadlines had to be rescheduled several times,attracting severe criticism and leading to escalating costs.
Some venues are now ready and are staging events to test the facilities,but construction work continues at some few major venues like the athletics and aquatics arenas.
The Asia championships will help organizers test the facilities at the venue that will stage the badminton event in the Commonwealth Games in October,the biggest multiple-sport event staged by India since the 1982 Asian Games in New Delhi.
Players,officials and spectators will all have to pass through multiple security cordons as Indian agencies seek to iron out any potential problems that could affect the foreign athletes’ outlook ahead of the Commonwealth Games.
England’s badminton team retuned home from Hyderabad before the start of the World championship,expressing security concerns after which the organizers increased the number of security staff around the stadium and team hotels.