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Petr Koukal: Czech champ

GUTS

Vol. 1. No. 8

A Window into World Badminton

Tour Diary: Asian Circuit

For Private Circulation Only

way to go, lee! resurgent world no.2 Lee Chong Wei goes into Beijing as one of the favourites for the gold. With a healthy record against World Champion Lin ‘Super’ Dan, all of Malaysia will be willing their man forward. Badminton aside, the world no.2 is one of the friendliest players on the circuit. GUTS brings to you an interview of the champ, who, with his strong performances at the Thomas Cup and Singapore Open, is one of those capable of stopping the Chinese juggernaut.

> p5 Cover Photo: Lee Chong Wei hugs coach Misbun Sidek after winning the Japan Open last year. BadmintonPhoto.com

3 July 2008


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GUTS - A Window into World Badminton

Editorial... Despite the dominance they enjoy, the Chinese players are not popular on the circuit. The world media, too, does not write too warmly about them. While it is true that they are not very approachable, one suspects that jealousy plays a role in the attitude of the rest of the world towards China. Recent profiles of Lin Dan in the Western press have tended to harp on his confrontations with Li Mao at the Korea Open and his team coach Ji Xingpeng at a training session. He is hotheaded, but perhaps no more or less than that cranky Indonesian, Taufik Hidayat. Neither has he, like Lee Chong Wei at the last World Championships, blamed his coach for his failures. There is more to Lin than his misdemeanours – he is a rare breed, fit to be classified alongside the best sportsmen of our generation. It is also possible that his perceived arrogance is a myth. As Crystal Wing, who served as interpreter at the All England, says, the Chinese team is a nice bunch, and seem ‘unfriendly’ only because they cannot communicate in English. With the Olympics coming up, there is a lot of attention on India’s two representatives, Anup Sridhar and Saina Nehwal. GUTS believes both have the potential to return with a medal. In the last issue we mentioned the devastating earthquake at Sichuan and the Chinese team’s efforts to raise money for the affected. Of equal concern are the recent bomb blasts in India. GUTS hopes the badminton community does not isolate itself of these happenings; it could raise money by means of a series of exhibition games or similar events. badmintonmania@gmail.com

BQ Check your Badminton Quotient Which Chinese player will be going for her third straight Olympics gold? SMS your answers and name to 9902599822

Answer to last edition's BQ: Mangalore University Winners: Sripoorna Purohit, Sindhu Bharadwaj, Ravikumar HJ, Suma Nagaraj

koukal reads guts. Do you?

July '08

China sweep Asian Jrs; Guru Sai makes quarters KUALA LUMPUR: China bagged four golds first round in the singles, but conceded to at the Asian Junior Championships (July 13 her Chinese opponent in the next. to 20), leaving only the boys’ doubles to be - Abhijeet Kulkarni fought over between Malaysia and Korea. Malaysia nabbed the face-saving gold while Saina’s surge at Thailand handing Korea its last of three final day BANGKOK: It was another Chinese saga defeats to leave them holding only silver and at the Thailand Open Grand Prix Gold bronze for the second year in a row. event (June 24-29), with Lin Dan and Xie China also won the mixed team Xingfang claiming the coveted singles titles. championship, beating Korea 3-1 in the Lin had it tough against hometown hero final. Wang Zhengming of China won the Boonsak Ponsana, while Xie survived a close boys’ singles beating the German Junior second game to beat compatriot Lu Lan. Open champion Park Sung Min (Kor) 21-10, For India, Saina Nehwal capped an 21-14, while Li Xuerui beat compatriot excellent Asian season with a quarterfinal Wang Shixian for the girls’ singles gold. result, falling to eventual winner Xie India’s Guru Sai Dutt had an Xingfang. Saina entered the quarters impressive run, reaching the quarterfinal after beating Elisabeth Cann (Canada) of the men’s singles and Nguyen Nhung eye on India before losing to eventual (Vietnam). champion Wang Zhengming. Guru beat Cao Fellow-Hyderabadi P Kashyap entered Thang (Vietnam), Loh Wei Sheng (Mas) the third round, with wins over Allan Tai and Chou Tien Chen in straight games, and Kendrick Lee (walkover). Anup Sridhar before going down to Wang 21-17, 21-18. had a satisfactory outing, with an impressive The other Indian performances weren’t win over Juergen Koch in the first in three noteworthy. Both Aditya Prakash, Sikki tight games, and Daren Liew (Malaysia) in Reddy and Thulasi PC fell in the first round. the second round. He fell to finalist Boonsak Guru was also the lone winner in the Ponsana 21-11, 28-26. Six other Indians fell first team game against Malaysia, which the in the first round – among them, Guru Sai Indians lost 4-1. India lost the next match Dutt, who had come through two qualifying to Japan 3-2, with Guru again winning his rounds. match in three games. Earlier that fortnight, Indonesia The Indians lost the tie despite going and Malaysia took two golds each at the up 2-0, with Aditya Prakash/ Thulasi PC Indonesian Open (June 17 to 22). Zhu Lin winning the first match. India, drawn in was the lone Chinese winner, beating the Group A with Malaysia, Japan and Iraq, resurgent Maria Yulianti; Sony Kuncoro took the last tie against Iraq 5-0. Korea beat took the men's title over compatriot Simon Malaysia 3-1 in the first team semifinal, Santoso. Saina Nehwal, having beaten while China whitewashed Hong Kong 3-0. Rosaria Yusfin in the first, went down to third seed Pi Hongyan of France 12-21, 21Prajakta hurts eye 18, 21-16. MUMBAI: Prajakta Sawant hurt her eye during the mixed doubles second round Chetan falls in quarters match in the BAC. Sawant, pairing with HO CHI MINH CITY: National champion Pranav Chopra, were leading 7-2 against Chetan Anand’s superb run at the Vietnam fifth seed Wing Ki Wong and Ying Suet Challenge (July 2 to 6) ended in the Tse of Hong Kong when a tap from Tse hit semifinals to Malaysian prodigy Chong Wei Sawant on her left eye. Feng. The second-seeded Chetan lost 16-21, The 16-year-old continued to play 21-10, 21-15 in a 45-minute battle. Chong after some first aid but could not maintain in turn lost to hometown favourite Nguyen the momentum as the Indian pair bowed out Tien Minh in a marathon match, 26-24 in 21-14, 21-11. the third game. Malaysia’s Lydia Cheah took The Thane girl was then moved the women’s title. to a near-by hospital and was kept under The final was Chong’s fifth threeobservation since she was having trouble in setter in six matches. India’s Guru Sai Dutt sighting. “The eye hurt every time I moved had earlier tested the fourth seed in the first it. But now it’s a lot better. I’m happy it is round. P Kashyap, JBS Vidyadhar and Ajay not a serious injury and I am hopeful of Jayaram fell in the first round. Jwala Gutta being back on court in a few days,” she said and Shruti Kurien lost in the quarters after a after returning to India. Prajakta won her first-round walkover.


July '08

GUTS - A Window into World Badminton

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Jakarta, Bangkok; halls and malls

every day even with other teams like Chinese Taipei but we also made it a point to enjoy the trip as well. I think it’s important to have a good time when you’re abroad, but obviously only after you’re done playing, and as long as it doesn’t affect the rest and training. So we checked out quite a few malls as usual, bought like 50-60 DVDs each. This is a regular feature for all of us when we are in Asia; since the DVDs are so cheap. It’s amazing the way some teams like China, Indonesia and Korea come in such big groups along with their doctors, coaches and physios. Sometimes they even bring their cooks along. I think being so professional is one of the reasons they have been doing so well and maintaining a consistent level of play for decades. I know it’s not possible for us to have the same resources as they do but it is ANAND PAWAR, who played in the important for us to make as much use of whatever resources we get Indonesian and Thailand Opens, and is available to us. gives us the sights and sounds So we were off to Bangkok the week after the Indonesian Open. The Thailand Open was a GP Gold so the competition was not as I REACHED Jakarta in the morning around 11... it’s been almost strong as the Indonesian but it had big names in the draw like Lin three years since I last visited (I had come for three months at a Dan and Boonsak Ponsana. We had a bigger group this time as we stretch in 2004 and 2005 to train with Atik Jauhari). Jakarta's a lot were joined by Chetan, Jwala, Shruti, Ajay, Kashyap, Aditi and Guru. like Mumbai except with a hell of a lot of malls... way more… I don’t Bangkok is a totally different and exciting place which probably has think I’ve ever seen any city with so many malls and the best part more tourists than locals. Famous for its shopping centres and street is that they’re always full with a mostly young crowd. Arvind and markets, Bangkok is one of the liveliest cities I’ve ever been to. There I kept wondering how it’s possible that every mall in Jakarta was are people on the streets any time of the day or night. The shopping always packed as we were going to various places to eat. centres are so cool with almost everything available at half the Anyway, apart from that the tournament was at the Istora price. I think I could just spend an entire day Senayan Stadium which is one of the regular asian circuit walking around in a mall and deciding what venues for the Indonesian Open. I remember to buy as there’s so much choice. Obviously all being in the stadium for the first time in 2004 of us did a fair bit of shopping after we were done with our matches for the Thomas and Uber Cup final rounds as I was training with and training. We were all quite happy with the food as well. Atik in another part of Jakarta at that time and he managed to get Overall it was a good trip. Some of us headed back home while passes for me. the others went on to play the Vietnam Challenge. This year was the first time I saw so many of the players I idolized. Seeing Peter Gade for the first time, the way he was so smooth on the court, was so amazing. Likewise, watching the entire tournament live! Of course there were so many legends present in the hall as well. Legends like Lius Pongoh and Rudy Hartono were sitting in the crowd while Park Joo Bong was busy running around coaching all the Japanese players playing Pics courtesy: on different courts. In one part of the sitting area you would Anand Pawar find someone who was a World Champion or an All England champion or an Olympic medallist... it was quite unbelievable! I was in the qualifying as it was a Super Series event but Arvind Bhat and Anup Sridhar were in the main draw so I was the only one in the qualifying rounds. I was up against a Dane, Hans Kristian Vittinghus. I lost to him in straight sets although both the games were pretty close. Anup and Arvind also crashed out in the first round to Joachim Persson and Alamsyah. So now the next one was the Thailand Open the next week. We had our regular training sessions


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GUTS - A Window into World Badminton

July '08

The world in a page...

WHEN I was younger I used to hate reading. My dad kept telling me to at least read the newspaper, but I was adamant enough to not even do that regularly. I told my dad I was too tired to read after playing. Looking back, I realise I was such a fool. Books are undoubtedly some of the biggest treasures in life. I would never have discovered that if I had not got injured. It was only when I got a serious knee injury four years ago that I started reading. I had a lot of time on my hands and I couldn’t complain about being tired either, so I started reading. My first real book was ‘It’s Not About The Bike’ by Lance Armstrong. The book I guess was just written for me at that phase of my life. Considering what Lance went through my injury seemed insignificant. He was diagnosed with cancer, and doctors told him he wouldn’t live long. Lance not only lived, he won the toughest race in sport, the Tour de France, seven times. Now that is greatness. Whenever I sulk about any pain in my body I remind myself of him. It was an inspiring book. After this book I must have read loads of fiction and non-fiction. In fiction my all-time favourites are ‘The Kite

India no.2 Aditi Mutatkar talks about her relationship with books and how they have been a great source of strength and wisdom Runner’ and Ayn Rand’s ‘Fountainhead’. Ayn Rand believed in objectivism. The lead character of the book is I think one of the best characters written in any novel. He is an architect who is so idealistic that he refuses to compromise. I’m surprised our Bollywood directors haven’t made a movie out of this book. It will make a great movie. ‘The Kite Runner’ is about how a man deals with his weakest moment in life. He watches his friend being harassed but rather than helping him out chooses to run for his own life, but he never forgets the disappointment in his friend’s eyes. The irony is that the friend forgives him and that troubles him even more. It’s a tragic story, one of the few books that brought tears to my eyes. I’m a great fan of autobiographies. Some of the more memorable autobiographies that I read were of Richard Branson, Muhammad Ali and Pele.

Ali is my hero. I love his attitude towards life and his sport, be it the story of him throwing his first Olympic gold medal in the river, or of him refusing to take part in the Vietnam war. The man had moral courage and that is rare nowadays. Books are my friends. It gets lonely for me in my sport. I’m not complaining, I enjoy my company. Having said that, I don’t really have a social life, there’s no time and I don’t have the energy to go out. That’s where books have helped me. They open a new world and increase my horizon. Most of my friends are amazed of my reading habits. I keep telling them to try and inculcate reading in their lives. Reading has changed my perspective towards my game, my life and importantly it has made me so much more aware of my surroundings. I recently finished ‘Freakonomics’. It’s about a different perspective to modern economics, a refreshing way to look at the subject, and I found it interesting. I’m currently reading ‘How Lance Does It’. It is proving to be one of the best self-help books I have ever read. Give books a chance. You never know, they might just touch your lives the way they have touched mine.


July '08

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GUTS - A Window into World Badminton

Cover Story: Lee Chong Wei

Crouching tiger, nervous dragon LEE CHONG WEI is one of the favourites for the Olympic gold. In this interview with CHAU YAP, Lee talks about how being bad at studies helped him decide in favour of badminton. GUTS brings you this interview by special arrangement with Badminton-Information.com. Penang seems to produce quite a few world-class badminton players. I think that is because there are more people in Penang who are interested in the game. However this phenomenon is not confined to Penang only. It happens throughout the North Malaysia region, places like Ipoh and Alor Setar. In general the North Malaysia region has produced a lot of world class players over the years. Did any of your batch mates make the same grade as you? If not, what was the reason? Only a few managed to overcome the obstacles of becoming a professional player. Players like Kuan Beng Hong, Gan Teik Chai and Lin Woon Fui were those selected just like me. Kuan and Gan are both from Alor Setar. Many players dropped out half-way. It might be due to oneself, it might be due to their mental blocks or it might even be due to their training methods. A lot of factors and reasons are in play here. What is your advice for beginners and intermediate players? Well, my advice to them is to focus on their studies if possible (We burst into laughter). Like me, part of the reason that I chose to play badminton as a profession is because I didn’t like to study. Of course now I have some success to show but the road to success is really hard. As you know, they are so many badminton players in Malaysia, and to be chosen out of the many thousands and even millions of people is not an easy feat. Talent is needed but that alone will not bring you success. Dedication, perseverance and self-discipline are must-haves as well. So, my advice for young aspiring badminton players is to focus on their studies if they get a chance to do so. What do you think of the rally point system? I think that in order to win in this new scoring system, one has to play fast. You have to attack when the opportunity arises. There is also less time to recover in between points as every rally counts, unlike the

Lee Chong Wei (right) with Chau Yap, editor of Badminton-Information.com

old 15 points scoring system where the player’s stamina and endurance counts more because of the longer rallies. Which player did you admire, at the local and the international scene? I think it would be Sun Jun. When I started picking up this sport, he was then the world champion. I admired the way he played his game as he had quick reflexes and lightning speed on court though he was small in size. I personally feel that the all-time great players would be Yang Yang and Zhao Jianhua. Although I have not seen them Lee on Lee Highlight of your career? When I took the world no. 1 spot. Most difficult opponent? Lin Dan, because I don’t play the game I should against him. Your strengths? Explosiveness. Like a crouching tiger waiting to pounce on its prey. Need to work on... Mental fitness. Best friend on the circuit? Taufik Hidayat, Kuan Beng Hong. play, their achievement in badminton is nothing short of amazing. The more recent one would be Peter Gade as he was the world no.1 consecutively for a few years when he was at his peak.

Which tournament would you most want to win and why? The Olympics and the World Championships. That’s because no Malaysian has won either. How is the coaching standard in Malaysia? Not bad. We use a lot of overseas coaches in our national team set-up. That is because BAM would like us to learn the techniques and training methods from various countries like China, Indonesia and Denmark. Who among the youngsters would you say can excel at the world level? I think Tan Chun Seang from Alor Setar and Chan Kwong Beng from Taiping have the potential to succeed. Both of them also come from the Northern region of Malaysia. In my view, the two have the best chance to take over Malaysia’s singles baton. They are already representing Malaysia in smaller international tournaments. Arif Latif is another young player who has the potential to become Malaysia’s singles player one day. He is only 18 and a bit small in size but if he continues to work hard in training, he has a good chance to make it. What do you hope to achieve before you retire? I would love to retire at the peak of my career, having won all the major tournaments in badminton. But of course I am only hoping that I can do so. If I cannot I still have to retire.


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Badmintonphoto.com

In the name of the father

By Dev S Sukumar/ GUTS HOROVICE, half-an-hour by road from the Czech capital Prague, in the 1970s was still under Communist rule. It was, as Petr Koukal would tell his son much later, a restrictive life – no overseas travel, long queues for food, clampdown on private businesses. Koukal was an aspiring badminton player, but it was perhaps the wrong sport to choose, at the wrong time and in the wrong place. And so, when many years later his son, also Petr, gets to travel the world as a badminton professional, he lives his father’s dreams. As a world top-40 player, he gets to fly from one continent to another, and

that was almost beyond the family’s wildest imagination. That’s why they ask him to bring back pictures of his travels. When he gets back from the Olympics, there will be plenty to narrate.

It’s a good question what might have been the story of badminton in the Czech Republic (earlier Czechoslovakia) if democracy had set in earlier. As it turned out, it was only in 1989, through the ‘Velvet Revolution’, that democracy ushered in a more liberal atmosphere – and the young country has already produced its first worldclass player. The younger Petr was four when the revolution happened; the subsequent economic boom in his country made the turbulence of the last decades seem a quaint memory. “My parents keep telling me stories of that time, it’s scary” he says. “You couldn’t even get fruits in Prague, there were one-day queues for bananas. These people, the ones that lived through it, are still alive – my parents, grandparents – they come to supermarkets and it’s such a big change. For me it’s normal, but for them, it’s like the difference between riding a horse and riding a car.” “You couldn’t start your own business, and if you weren’t in the (Communist) Party, you were in trouble. And many people, like my parents, didn’t sign up, but that meant you were pushed down. If you were in the Party, at least you could go to Croatia or Germany. But when democracy came, these people who were suppressed earlier did well. My father started his own business, and it did very well.” As a boy, he liked athletics and tennis, but gradually turned to badminton, a result of his father’s persuasions. “When he was a player, it was a Communist country,

so he wasn’t able to play international tournaments,” says Petr. “When I started it was a democracy, the courts were open, and he tried to make his dreams true through me.” There was little in his country badminton-wise, and so he decided to travel overseas, playing at clubs in Austria, Germany and Denmark. His father accompanied him early on, but by his teens he was travelling by himself. “The key moment was going abroad to play, because if I’d stayed home, I wouldn’t have improved.” It wasn’t easy being a badminton player in a country that had little of its legacy. “It’s not easy even now,” says Petr. “If I say I qualified for the Olympics, they say – ‘oh, it’s badminton, so what’s the problem?’” He enrolled at university but dropped out as he was selected to the BWF Academy at Saarbrucken in Germany; but he didn’t


complete that either, and lasted just nine months. “I was just playing, and I won some junior tournaments,” he says. “I was wondering if I should stay on in badminton, because there was no money, no support from anybody.” It was only when he lost narrowly to Poland’s world no.14 Przemyslaw Wacha at the 2004 European Championships, that he was convinced he could become a serious contender. He is now among the top 40 of the world and a dangerous player for anyone in the top ten. He proved that at the Swiss Open earlier this year, when he dumped Chen Jin a week after the Chinese world no.4 had won the All England. “I would like to get into the top-15,” he says. “And maybe get a medal at the next Olympics.” In a world where the competitive sportsman looks increasingly alienated from his social moorings – appearing to belong to a different planet, as it were – Koukal comes across as a refreshingly down-home guy. That’s because he’s still a small-town boy at heart – Horovice has just 7,000 people, and everybody knows him. “I can go to restaurants and sometimes I don’t have to pay. It’s a good feeling – but if I want to celebrate my birthday I can’t go out and get drunk and wander around the streets.” As one of their own who made it big, his townspeople now look upon him with pride. It’s a relationship he cherishes, because after every trip he looks forward to getting back home and spending time with family and friends; swimming and running and biking. And his folks will ask him stories of his travels, and he will indulge them, because he knows they hate it when he says he spent all his time playing badminton. Main photo courtesy: Badmintonphoto.com. All other pics courtesy: petrkoukal.com

GUTS - A Window into World Badminton

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'I'm really homesick'

India no.1 ANUP SRIDHAR, in a special role as interviewer for GUTS, talks to PETR KOUKAL about life as a badminton pro Anup: You traveled a lot during your junior days, more than any of us. Didn’t you get homesick? Petr: Like now, after six weeks in Asia, I’m really homesick. I want to go home. But after four-five days at home, you want to go somewhere else… so I will be going to Denmark. I heard times were difficult earlier in your country… It was Communist, it was very tough, you could not go abroad. I don’t remember the time. It changed to a democracy when I was four. But my parents tell me of that time, it’s scary. You couldn’t get things like fruits in Prague, there were one-day queues for bananas. That generation is still alive – my parents, grandparents, they come to supermarkets, and it’s such a big change. For me it’s normal, but for them it’s such a big change. You played very well against Chetan at the Swiss Open, and you beat Chen Jin as well… Against Chetan, I was very tired in the second game, but I won. Next day I played Chen, and I had nothing to lose. It was close until 6-all, then he went 11-7, and he was trying to move me around. I got a bit of rest at 11, then made it 13-all. Earlier, he was trying to make me smash hard and was defending well, but then I started clipping the shuttle, played deceptive, and kept it quick. I went 17-13… with some lucky points, I won the game at 15. Then he just retired. He didn’t seem injured, but it didn’t matter to me. I won. What do you think of the Chinese? They don’t speak to anyone. That’s part of the game they play. I don’t think that if Lin Dan speaks to everybody, he’ll be a lesser player. Do you have any hobbies? I like swimming, running, biking, golf… I read some books here, because it was boring for me in Asia. I can ski, but the last three years I didn’t because you can get stiff after one week. Isn’t it supposed to be dangerous? Thing is, if you’re good at it, you don’t fall, but somebody can hit you and break your back. Before, I used to go to France and Italy with my parents, it’s so nice there, and it’s good for training as well. Do you travel in the cities you play in? When I was in China for two months’ training, I spent one extra week in Beijing. I saw the Great Wall… in Europe I know all the big places, so I just stay in a hotel and then get back home. In Asia, I try to go around a bit. Not that I care, but my parents and grandparents want to see pictures.

Pics: Dev S Sukumar

July '08


July '08

GUTS - A Window into World Badminton

Stiff draw for Saina, Anup INDIA’S two shuttlers at the Olympics, Saina Nehwal and Anup Sridhar, have a rocky road in their quest for a medal, but both have relatively easy first-round opponents. Saina will take on 30th ranked Ella Karachkova of Russia in the first round. If she gets past, as she is expected to, she will face Agnese Allegrini (Italy, no.55) the second. Although both opponents are ranked below her, Saina herself sounded circumspect. “Even the first two rounds can be tough,” she told GUTS. “I’ve not played either, but I’ve seen them play and they are quite good. I’m taking one match at a time, so I’m not thinking of Wang Chen at the moment. But overall, I think it’s a good draw.” Saina, who recently achieved a career-best ranking of 15, is expected to run into fourth-seed Wang Chen of Hong Hong in the third round. Should she upset Wang, she is on course to meet All England winner Tine Rasmussen. The last time she met Rasmussen was at the Hong Kong Open in November, where she lost 21-17 in the third game. Anup will meet Marco Vasconcelos beijing (Portugal, no.89) in the first round, and is likely to take on Shoji Sato (Japan, no.16) in the second. Should he beat Sato, his next opponent is seeded to be Peter Gade. But Anup, like Saina, refuses to look too far into the draw. “I don’t remember seeing Marco play… but anybody who qualifies for the Olympics has to be good, and he’s got nothing to lose.” Anup’s good friend Aravind Bhat recalls playing Marco a “long time ago”. “He’s basically a runner; if Anup’s ankle doesn’t play up he shouldn’t have a problem. I think Marco is 35 or 36, so it should be a good match for Anup.” The Indian has a 3-2 record against Sato, and their matches have always been tight. The last time they met was at the Swiss Open, where Anup won in three. “Sato’s got more big wins than I have. My matches against him are always close, I enjoy playing him. His footspeed is the best in the world, he’s very quick while coming front, and he’s got a good jump and steep half-smashes, which is unusual because he’s so short. My defence needs to be good against him.” Anup is in the same quarter as no.1 Lin Dan, who has a minefield of a draw, with Ng Wei up first and a likely confrontation with Asian champion Park Sung Hwan in the third. - GUTS

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Misbun loves to fish PETALING JAYA: When he’s not overseas at some competition or coaching Lee Chong Wei and Wong Mew Choo, Malaysian coach Misbun Sidek will head out for some fishing. “It doesn’t matter where or when, as long as there is no training, I’m ever ready to go for a trip,” he says. “Fishing relaxes me. Being out on a boat on the sea or a lake is so peaceful and tranquil. “Being one with nature can help free my mind before returning to the urban jungle where the rat race and the quest for gold medals bring its own pressures.” Over the years, Misbun says that he has become more religious. He also admitted to becoming more patient and disciplined, “qualities many may not associate with me,” he adds with a laugh. - The Star Online, Malaysia

Blow to Holland’s hopes

AMSTERDAM: In spite of being still on the BWF list of qualified players and clearly deserving her spot in China this summer, Yao Jie will not participate in the Olympics as her National Olympic Committee rejected her last appeal this weekend. The former Chinese will stay home during the Games just like all her teammates – a sad development considering their excellent performance at the Uber Cup, where they stretched China 3-2 in the quarterfinals. Although she had failed to meet the criteria given by the Dutch Olympic Committee, Yao had been hoping for a last minute miracle, as she had been in great form recently, beating the favourite for the Olympic title, Xie Xingfang, a few weeks ago in Jakarta at the Uber Cup. -Badzine

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Arvind, Meenakshi triumph MUMBAI: Arvind Bhat and BR Meenakshi, both from Bangalore, clinched the men's and women's singles titles in the Tata Open All India Badminton Tournament in the last week of July, but the big story of the tournament was Sachin Ratti’s amazing run. Ratti, who like his contemporaries Gopichand, Siddharth Jain and Abhinn Shyam Gupta, is in semi-retirement, was expected to be eliminated early from the tournament. However, the Railways player, who runs an academy in his home state Punjab, created upset after upset – his victims included England no.1 Rajiv Ouseph in the semis and Indian international Anand Pawar in the quarters. He couldn’t extend his run in the final, as Bhat outclassed him 21-19, 21-9 in the 36-minute to pocket the winner’s prize money of Rs 75,000. Earlier, unseeded Meenakshi of Indian Oil defeated her third seeded rival Neha Pandit 21-12, 25-23. Bhat got past Ajay Jayaram in the semis and Guru Sai Dutt in the quarters. As expected, other winners included Diju/ Jwala in the mixed, Jwala/ Shruti Kurien in the women’s doubles, and Rupesh Kumar/ Sanave Thomas in the men’s doubles. Editor: Dev S. Sukumar. Printed & Published by Thomas J. Kunnath. P4, KSSIDC Industrial Area, Mahadevapura, Bangalore - 560 048. Printed at National Printing Press, Koramangala, Bangalore-560 095. Email: thomas@kunnath.in


GUTS, July 08