First badminton player named to U.S. Olympic team for Tokyo

Beiwen Zhang
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Beiwen Zhang is the first badminton player named to the U.S. Olympic team for Tokyo.

Zhang, 30 and the world’s 14th-ranked player, grew up in China and moved to the U.S. in 2013. She is the first of whom USA Badminton hopes is multiple players on the team.

More invitations could be sent out to nations based on which National Olympic Committees accept spots by June 25.

The U.S. had seven badminton players for the 2016 Rio Games — one entry each in men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles — with a best finish of tied for ninth.

The U.S. has never earned an Olympic medal in badminton, which debuted as a medal sport at the 1992 Barcelona Games.

The last time the U.S. sent a team of one athlete in any sport to an Olympics was for the 2000 Sydney Games, also in badminton.

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Carolina Marin, Olympic badminton champion, to miss Tokyo Games

Carolina Marin
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Carolina Marin, a Rio Olympic badminton champion and one of Spain’s most accomplished athletes, will miss the Tokyo Games after tearing the ACL and meniscus in her left knee, according to the World Badminton Federation.

“This is another blow that I have to deal with, but I will certainly be back,” was posted on Marin’s social media on Tuesday. “The preparation during the last two months had become very difficult for reasons beyond the team’s control, but we were excited and knew that I would be on the best shape for the Olympics. It won’t be possible.”

Marin, 27, posted last Friday that she suffered a left ACL injury in training.

In 2016, Marin became the first European woman to win an Olympic badminton title.

Marin, who wanted to become a flamenco dancer before discovering badminton, also won world titles in 2014, 2015 and 2018. She missed the 2019 Worlds due to a right ACL tear that kept her out of competition for more than seven months.

P. V. Sindhu of India took silver in Rio, then won the 2019 World title in Marin’s absence.

India, the world’s second-most populous nation, has never had an Olympic champion in a women’s event.

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Lin Dan, badminton legend, retires: ‘It is very difficult to say goodbye’

Lin Dan
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Lin Dan, arguably the greatest badminton player in history, announced retirement Saturday, citing “pain and injuries” in bowing out a year before the postponed Tokyo Olympics.

“I have been with the national team from 2000 to 2020, and it is very difficult to say goodbye,” 36-year-old Lin wrote to his four million Weibo fans, according to Badminton World Federation (BWF) translation. “Pain and injuries no longer allow me to fight with my teammates. I have gratitude, a heavy heart and unwillingness.”

Lin, nicknamed “Super Dan,” won Olympic singles titles in 2008 and 2012, plus five individual world titles. It’s the greatest resume for any badminton player from China, which owns twice as many medals as any other nation in the sport that debuted at the 1992 Barcelona Games.

He competed at the last four Olympics, won the sport’s Super Grand Slam (nine major titles) and had his own wax figure at Madame Tussauds in Shanghai.

Lin’s outbursts on and off the court led to some calling him the John McEnroe of badminton, but he is revered. In 2015, he was the second athlete on Forbes China‘s most popular celebrities list behind tennis player Li Na.

Lin’s pursuit of a fifth Olympics in Tokyo was looking out of reach. He dropped to No. 26 in the Olympic qualifying rankings, trailing four countrymen, including No. 5 Chen Long (Rio Olympic champion) and No. 11 Shi Yuqi (2018 World silver medalist). A nation can qualify a maximum of two individual players per gender for the Games.

“From where came his mastery? In short, his prowess was essentially due to the completeness of his game – in skill, physical ability and mental strength,” the BWF wrote in a press release. “Such was his craft that even well into his 30s, normally considered an advanced age for men’s singles, he could outplay younger and fitter opponents.”

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

MORE: Who is China’s greatest Olympian?

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