Badminton: Tears, quit calls as China suffer shock exit

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

China's all-conquering badminton coach Li Yongbo was urged to step down by angry fans after a shock Thomas Cup exit threw their Olympic preparations into chaos. Spectators hissed and shouted "Li Yongbo quit!" as China lost 3-1 to South Korea in the Thomas Cup quarter-finals in Kunshan, near Shanghai. One weeping and hysterical supporter had to be escorted out by security as world number one Chen Long and then two doubles pairs flopped at the team championships. The result augurs badly for China's Olympic campaign in Rio de Janeiro, four years after they became the first country to win all five gold medals. China, led by the militaristic Li, have dominated badminton for the past decade but unease is growing that the golden age may be coming to an end. "Li Yongbo should quit," Chinese fan Zhang Bohan told AFP bluntly. "I feel like there's something wrong with the Chinese team with the management or something." Chinese great Lin Dan won his match against Lee Dong-Keun but it hasn't been a convincing tournament for the 32-year-old Olympic champion, who earlier dropped a game against French unknown Lucas Corvee. China's women safely reached the Uber Cup final but competition will be intense for Rio singles gold, with Spain's Carolina Marin and Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand among the top contenders. Top-ranked Chen admitted he suffered an attack of the nerves in his 87-minute scrap with South Korea's Son Wan-ho, which ended 12-21, 21-16, 15-21 late on Thursday. Chen, who was also taken to three games by Japan's Sho Sasaki in the group phase, said he needed to relax as the Olympics approach. "For me, if I attack two or three times but didn't get the point, then I would get nervous," said Chen. "But when (Son) attacked two or three times and didn't get the point, he would attack the fourth time." Chen added: "I should play more quickly, more attacking... but I didn't do well because I think too much." Chen said he acutely felt the strain of being the world number one, a position which means that every opponent is trying to take him down. "I put pressure on myself. I'm the world number one so everyone is trying to attack me and trying to speed up. I've been playing quite slow," said Chen. China's men now face the challenge of regrouping before Rio, where they will be defending not only their Olympic titles, but also their coach's legacy. "For the Olympics, I still have two months to go, so we have time to relax and prepare very well," said Chen.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting