Tuesday, March 14, 2023
TEXT BY PREM KUMAR | BADMINTONPHOTO
Badminton’s oldest and biggest competition starts today in Birmingham.
Here are some fascinating facts about it.
Inaugural edition in 1899 only consisted doubles events; singles were introduced a year later.
Sir George Thomas is the most successful athlete with 21 championships (nine in men’s doubles, eight mixed doubles, four men’s singles).
Frank Devlin was the earliest non-English winner. The Irishman took men’s doubles (with England’s Guy Sautter) in 1922 and won on another 17 occasions. He sits second on the all-time list behind Thomas.
Record for consecutive titles belongs to Indonesian men’s singles icon Rudy Hartono – seven (1968-1974).
No athlete has more singles crowns than American Judy Devlin. Ten is her magic number.
OPEN ERA (1980 ONWARD)
This is the first edition since 2017 to feature defending champions in all five categories.
Despite Indonesia’s pedigree, they have not toasted a men’s singles champion for 29 years. Hariyanto Arbi in 1994 was the previous one to come good. Seeds Jonatan Christie (2) and Anthony Sinisuka Ginting (3) lead their charge in 2023.
Malaysia have also never celebrated a women’s doubles titlists but the fifth-seeded pair of Tan Pearly/Thinaah Muralitharan’s two HSBC BWF World Tour crowns came in Europe (Swiss Open 2021, French Open 2022).
Viktor Axelsen stands to become the first back-to-back men’s singles king since Lee Chong Wei in 2011. It is the longest category not to see a holder defend his title.
Axelsen has played the last four title matches, winning in 2020 and 2022.
Women’s singles third seed Tai Tzu Ying could achieve a fourth victory. Malaysian icon Lee was the most recent to do it in 2017.
Bang Soo Hyun (1996) is the last Korean to take women’s singles. This year, in second seed An Se Young, they possess a player in form.
Japan are the sole nation to ace at least one event at every edition starting 2018.
Nami Matsuyama/Chiharu Shida can be the first Japanese women’s pair in half a century to retain their prize. Machiko Aizawa/Etsuko Takenaka completed their double in 1973.
Yuta Watanabe, who has two men’s doubles and three mixed doubles gold medals, can occupy the top step of the podium for the sixth time. The last shuttler to do so was the great Lin Dan in 2016.
Countries waiting for their maiden All England titlist (s) but have seeded entries are Thailand (men’s and women’s singles, women’s and mixed doubles), Singapore (men’s singles), France (mixed doubles) and Germany (mixed doubles).