. Zhang Lianying: A Chinese coach behind Danish Badminton Source: http://www.cphpost.dk/sport/120-spo...minton-owes-it-all-to-the-man-from-china.html Even though modern badminton originated in England, only one country in Europe poses a threat to China’s dominance: Denmark. So it is not surprising to note that the coach behind the country’s success over the last two decades is Chinese. During his 22 years working in Denmark, Lianying Zhang, the technical coach of the Badminton Denmark (BD), has cultivated a great number of international stars such as Poul-Erik Hoeyer Larsen, Peter Rasmussen, Camilla Martin, Tine Baun and Peter Gade, who over the weekend continued his recent excellent form by finishing runner-up in the Indian Open, losing in three sets to the world number one, Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei. Before coming to Denmark, Lianying worked as the coach for the Tianjin women’s badminton team in China for nine years. In 1989, Lianying was invited by BD chairman Tonny Holst Christensen to come to Denmark to be the private coach of his son Jon. After just three months training by Lianying, Christensen Jr won both the men’s doubles and mixed doubles Denmark Open titles, and soon after the mixed doubles title at the All England Open Badminton Championships. The name of Lianying Zhang spread across the country, and it wasn’t long before the 23-year-old Poul-Erik Hoeyer Larsen travelled to Lianying to be trained by him. Shortly afterwards Larsen beat the four-time All England winner Morten Frost, and Lianying - just four months after his arrival in Denmark - was given a coaching role at the BD’s elite centre in Brøndby. “At the beginning, the biggest challenge coming to Denmark was learning the language and getting used to living in Danish society. Luckily Danes are good at speaking English, but soon I started to have Danish lessons and today I can speak Danish,” recalled Lianying. From 1996 to 1999, Lianying was in charge of the men’s badminton team – a golden era for the nation during which Larsen, Rasmussen and Gade won numerous international tournaments, including the Olympics, World Championships and All England. After which Lianying became the BD technical coach. Compared to traditional Danish badminton coaching, Zhang’s methods are very different. He tailor-makes training schedules according to the players’ individual strengths and potentials, and his attention to the technical details is second to none. “He is indisputably the best coach I have ever had,” said Gade. “He is a master at finding each player’s strength and making them even better.” Rasmussen is another player who clearly owes Lianying everything. The now qualified doctor recalled how Lianying encouraged him to choose badminton ahead of his studies as a medical student and told him he could be a world champion – a feat he managed in 1997 after a memorable and dramatic final against China’s Sun Jun, which according to the Guinness Book of Records was the longest badminton game in history. “It is only because of Lianying that I won the World Championship,” said Rasmussen. “In the last seven to eight years he has worked with me every day at the gym. He stands behind my development of becoming a world class player.” It is no wonder that other countries have tried to poach Lianying. He has received but turned down lucrative offers from Germany, Netherlands and England. “I am satisfied with my career and network in Denmark,” continued Lianying. “I have been working here for 22 years, which is longer than any other trainer before me, and I have built a good relationship with the players here.” Lianying enjoys a happy family life in Copenhagen with his wife and two daughters. While the elder of the girls is a dentist, the younger, who due to China’s one child policy is much younger, is still at school. But while Lianying has not forgotten his roots - this summer he is organising the visit of a Danish youth team to train and live in China - for now, he is happy here, which is China’s loss and Denmark’s gain. .