China cool on another badminton sweep at Rio
By Ian Ransom
SYDNEY (Reuters) - China shrugged off badminton's biggest Olympic scandal to sweep all five titles at London four years ago but the Asian super-power is trying to keep a lid on expectations of another bumper gold medal haul at the Rio de Janeiro Games.
The peerless team that set up the 'Great Haul of China' in London will line up almost unchanged at Rio, anchored by men's singles great Lin Dan and women's champion Li Xuerui.
So strong were the Chinese in 2012 that they swept the titles without the reigning world champion women's doubles pairing of Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang, who were expelled from the tournament in disgrace.
Wang and Yu were among eight players disqualified for deliberately playing to lose pool round matches to secure more favorable draws in the knockout rounds.
In Rio, all of China's singles and doubles contenders are expected to vie for podium places but the days of gold medal-deciders fought exclusively by shuttlers in identical red shirts may be gone for good.
World badminton has moved the Olympic goalposts by limiting nations to two singles entrants in each event, down from the three at London and previous Games.
The move was intended to increase competition but naturally prompted grumblings in China of a containment strategy.
With the new limits, fewer team mates means more pressure on the remaining Chinese to perform for a nation which has become used to gold flowing from the badminton arena. Continued...