Derek Wong and Liang Xiaoyu get the cut for the Rio Olympics

7 min read
Derek Wong and Liang Xiaoyu

Team Singapore has strengthen their roster for the upcoming Rio Olympic as two more athletes, more precisely shuttlers, have sealed their berth for the “Greatest Show on the Earth” starting in August. The world governing body for the Badminton players, BWF, has published the latest ranking yesterday and as both Derek Wong and Lianx Xiaoyu was among the best 34 badminton players in the world, they earned their right to take part in the singles events in the Rio Olympic games. Notably, only the top 34 badminton players of the world will only get the ticket for Rio and Derek Wong & Lianx Xiaoyu are going to be the only contingents from Singapore who will represent their country in this particular discipline.

For 27 years old Derek Wong, who grabbed the 31st spot in the Badminton World Federation’s (BWF) Olympic rankings, one of the last few quota places available, the Rio Olympic is going to be the second straight appearance in this worldwide quadrennial event. The world number 63 and the silver medal winner at the 2014 Commonwealth Games held at Glasgow, Wong is very much determined to push himself as much as possible to get rid of the “Underdog” tag and count this opportunity to the fullest. In an interview, Wong said that the silver medal at the CWG games will provide him the mental boost and inspiration: “It’s going to be a very tough fight at the Olympics. But the Commonwealth Games has showed me that on my day, I can compete with some of the best players around. That’s the mentality that I will bring to the Olympics.”

On the other hand, Liang Xiaoyu will make her debut at the Olympics in Rio and this opportunity came to her somewhat as a surprise as the 20-years old shuttler had been mostly targeting the 2020 Tokyo Games. Liang said though her brilliant performances throughout the last year helped her world ranking to rise enough but she did not think that it will put her in contention for an Olympic place.

Liang said in her latest interview, “I wasn’t too confident. I had just started playing in the Open category and I’m still one of the younger and more inexperienced players in the national team.” Liang got her ticket for Rio ranked 21st in the Badminton World Federation’s (BWF) Olympic rankings and her superb display; especially an upset win over 2013 world champion and world No. 2 Ratchanok Intanon toward the last year rewarded her big time.

Though it will be the first Olympic appearance for Liang, but she too has the same mentality just like her team mate Wong and won’t leave an-inch ground without fighting. The 20-years old girl originally from Jiangsu who followed her parents to Singapore in 2007, when her father started working in Singapore as a school badminton coach said: “I’m going to be up against a lot of stronger players at the Olympics and I know many of them have a lot more experience than me. But I’m not going to treat it like I’m just going to make up the numbers there. There wouldn’t be much significance in going if that were the case.”

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The national team chief coach of ‘The Republics’ Chua Yong Joo commented that the players will take part at the Indonesia Open at the end of the month and the Australian Open next month but most of the planning and preparation for the Rio Olympics will be done at home and the famous shuttlers from other countries will be invited to Singapore to train with the team.

As no doubles players make the cut for the Rio 2016, the Badminton team of Singapore will be the smallest since the 2004 Olympics. Previously, three shuttlers (two events) in Athens, five (four events) in Beijing, and four (three events) in London represented ‘The Republics’. Till date 22 athletes have booked their berth for the upcoming Rio Olympics from Singapore.

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