PETALING JAYA: National shuttlers Lee Zii Jia and Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik may get a lucky break in their bid for a first podium finish at the World Championships in Huelva, Spain from Dec 12-19.
This is because powerhouse China have pulled off a shocking move by withdrawing several key members including world No. 12 Shi Yuqi and No. 4 Li Junhui-Liu Yuchen in the men’s singles and doubles events.
Yuqi finished as the runner-up to Kento Momota of Japan in Nanjing three years ago while Junhui-Yuchen were the world champions in 2018. The duo also won bronze in Basel two years ago.
There was no official statement from the China Badminton Association on the withdrawals but the well-calculated move is expected to make way for their second echelons to fill the maximum four-pair quotas in the men, women and mixed doubles events.
Former All-England champion Yuqi’s withdrawal indicated that the ankle injury he aggravated during the Thomas Cup Finals last month has been worse than initially thought. He appeared to have rediscovered his form by steering China to a successful Sudirman Cup title defend in Finland.
It’s a pity for Yuqi to be missing out on a second straight World Championships after skipping the Basel edition due the ankle problem.
In Yuqi’s absence, No. 27 Lu Guangzu and No. 42 Zhao Junpeng will be entrusted to reclaim glory in the event that they once ruled from mid 2000-2015 through Lin Dan (2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013), Chen Jin (2010) and Chen Long (2014, 2015).
The Tokyo Olympics silver medallist Chen Long had qualified but turned down the offer as he wanted to take a break until the end of the year before focusing on the Asian Games in Hangzhou next year.
Li Shifeng, who stood out as the second singles during the Thomas Cup Finals, did not get invited because of his low ranking.
In the men’s doubles, former world and Asian junior champions Wang Chang-Di Zijian have been included in the absence of the Tokyo Olympics silver medallists Junhui-Yuchen.
In the women’s doubles, world No. 7 and 2019 bronze medallists Du Yue-Li Yinhui were removed from the list of qualifiers updated by the Badminton World Federation (BWF) on Wednesday, and they have been replaced by No. 33 Dong Wenjing-Xueying.
Du Yue will also not play in the mixed doubles with He Jiting, where they are ranked No. 18. No. 43 Ou Xuanyi-Xueying will compete instead. Men’s singles: Lu Guangzu, Zhao Junpeng
Men’s doubles: He Jiting-Tan Qiang, Liu Cheng-Huang Kaixiang, Ou Xuanyi-Zhang Nan, Wang Chang-Di Zijian
Women’s singles: Chen Yufei, He Bingjiao, Wang Zhiyi, Han Yue
Women’s doubles: Chen Qingchen-Jia Yifan, Li Wenmei-Zheng Yu, Liu Xuanxuan-Xia Yuting, Dong Wenjing-Feng Xueying
Mixed doubles: Zheng Siwei-Huang Yaqiong, Wang Yilyu-Huang Dongping, Guo Xinwa-Zheng Shuxia, Ou Xuanyi-Feng Xueying