Coach hopes one of his Red Dragons will rule the world

  • Other Sport
  • Saturday, 02 Aug 2003

CHINESE head coach Li Yongbo expressed strong hope that one of his players will go on to lift the world title in Birmingham on Sunday.  

The Chinese singles armada, or called the Red Dragons back in their own country, have the biggest representation as the men's singles competition moved into the quarter-finals stage on Friday.  

All three Chinese players cleared their respective third round hurdles in style to go through to the last eight. 

World number one and top seed Chen Hong had it easy against eleventh seed Hidetaka Yamada from Japan, taking only 28 minutes to win 15-7. 15-9.  

Former world junior champion Bao Chunlai also sent third seed Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia crashing out an hour later. The lanky 20-year-old beat the off-form Indonesian 15-9, 15-4 to duly book his place in the last eight.  

Taufik's defeat is a huge blow to the Indonesian camp as they were banking on him to repeat Hendrawan's success in Seville two years ago.  

Third seed Xia Xuanze had to beat team-mate Lin Dan to book his place in the last eight, winning 15-10, 15-3.  

The Chinese players have all notched straight-game wins so far and Yongbo said the success of the players in clearing the early rounds convincingly was a relief to him.  

“I was worried over their form after not having taken part in any competitions for more than three months because of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak.  

“I am very happy that all our singles players have cleared the initial hurdles on very strong footing. Their current form and level of fitness is looking very good.  

“I believe any of them can go on to win the title,” he said in a special press conference for the Chinese media.  

Yongbo said he wants the players to maintain their performance in the final stages from now.  

Chunlai, who avenged his defeat to Taufik in the Sudirman Cup world mixed team competition held in March, said beating the Indonesian has given him a huge lift.  

“Taufik was one of the players we feared, so it will give us all extra confidence now he is no longer in the championships,” said the youngster.  

Top men singles player Chen Hong, who received an opening round bye, said he has yet to feel any pressure playing so far.  

“Every player has to play well here to get to the final. I am comfortable with my performance so far,” said Chen Hong, who lost in the semi-finals in Seville two years ago to Peter-Gade Christensen from Denmark.  

Yongbo said China are targeting three golds in Birmingham.  

“We expect our players to either triumph in the women's singles, women's doubles and mixed doubles. The men's singles competition is quite open but it will be a bonus if we win it as well.” 

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