Photo: (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Yu Yang, one of the eight Olympian shuttlers sent home in disgrace yesterday, has decided to quit badminton, saying her dreams have been “heartlessly shattered”.Meanwhile, Chinese officials have told their Olympic team leaders and players to make a public apology for deliberately losing matches at Wembley Arena.
Yu, a 26 year-old gold medallist from the 2008 Beijing Olympics, was among eight women’s doubles players expelled from the Games on Wednesday. The others were team-mate Wang Xiaoli, South Korean pairs Jung Kyung-eun and Kim Ha-na, and Ha Jung-eun and Kim Min-jung, plus Greysia Polii and Meiliana Jauhari of Indonesia.
“This is my last competition. Goodbye Badminton World Federation (BWF), goodbye my beloved badminton,” Yu wrote on her Weibo micro blog. “We … only chose to use the rules to abandon the match.”
The players, she said, were simply leveraging the new rules in the competition – this was the first time that group stages had been used over a knockout event – to ensure that they performed better later in the tournament.
“Don’t they understand the harm this has caused the athletes?” she said. “You have heartlessly shattered our dreams. It’s that simple, not complicated at all. But this is unforgivable.”
Yu and Wang were the top-seeded pair at these Games but found themselves one of eight players kicked out of the Olympics for throwing matches in a bid to secure more favourable draws later.
The sight of four pairs deliberately easing off, as well as spraying shuttles into the net or wide of the lines, disgusted a crowd of 4,800 packed into Wembley Arena expecting to see the best of badminton’s best.
Doubles badminton is renowned for its power, speed and guile, but the two women’s doubles – known for long rallies and players’ fitness – were anything but. In the first game involving the Chinese pair, the longest rally was four shots.
The Xinhua state news agency said Chinese officials were also demanding their disgraced players make a public apology.
“The delegation has already severely criticised and educated the responsible badminton leaders, team and relevant players and demanded they profoundly recognise the seriousness and the harmfulness of this matter, reflect deeply on it, publicly apologise and resolutely prevent such incidents from happening again,” Xinhua quoted an unnamed spokesman as saying.
Li Yongbo, China’s long-standing head coach, said the poor behaviour of his players reflected the shortcomings of the new regulations in the sport.
“I feel that no matter whether it is the rules or something else, that’s no excuse,” said Li. “The key point is we did not behave professionally as athletes and did not treat each match seriously.
“We didn’t strive with all our might in the Olympic way. From that point of view we really didn’t grasp this point thoroughly … as chief coach I really feel I must say sorry to fans and viewers nationwide,” Li told Xinhua.
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