Indonesia 2018: Spotlight on badminton

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The Para badminton competition looks set to be one of the most hotly contested sports at the Indonesia 2018 Asian Para Games, with 17 of the 21 world champions from the 2017 BWF Para-Badminton World Championships competing.

A total of 157 athletes from 19 countries will battle for 19 medals over eight days of competition at the Istora venue, part of the Gelora Bung Karno sports complex.

Host nation Indonesia will have high hopes with four world champions in their squad including Ukun Rakaendi. He was the surprise player of the last World Championships, winning two gold medals, despite being unseeded at the start of the competition. Their top female player, Leani Ratri Oktila is having a good season and at the recent Thailand Open in July completed a three-gold haul, winning her singles, doubles and mixed doubles events in straight games.

Elsewhere in the women’s competition, the Chinese women will be hoping to dominate, including Li Hongyan who burst onto the international scene in 2016 at the Asian Championships, when she won her first major title, defeating China’s reigning world champion Wang Ping in the singles WH 1 final. She followed this up with another win in the WH 1 singles competition at the 2017 World Championships, and then joined Yang Fan for the win in the women’s doubles WH 1-2.

Joining the Chinese women world champions is teen prodigy Liu Yutong who won gold in the WH-2 event in the 2017 World Championships. At just 14 she will be the youngest player in the Badminton event in Jakarta.

In the men’s events, in-form Wong Chun Yim of Hong Kong will be hoping to take the crown in the SS6 event following his shock defeat of Great Britain’s reigning world champion Jack Shepherd at the Thailand Open in late July. South Korea’s Kim Jungjun will hope to continue his dominance of the men’s WH2 singles event, but Hong Kong’s Chan Ho Yuen will be aiming to stop him, having only narrowly been beaten by Kim in the recent Thai Open.

The Para badminton events will run from 6-13 October. The sport has been part of all three editions of the Asian Para Games but will feature as part of the Paralympic Games programme in Tokyo 2020 for the first time. With so many world champions and highly ranked players coming from Asia it is bound to prove one of the highlights of the Games.

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