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  1. #1
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    Default The WS World Champion Curse. And, the Olympic Champion Curse?

    The WS World Champion Curse probably started with 2007 World Champion Zhu Lin who took over the mantle from two time defending World Champion Xie XingFang. Zhu Lin did not make the cut for the 2008 Olympics and faded out.

    2009 welcomed a new World Champion Lu Lan who was poised to reign over the post-Zhang Ning/Xie XingFang era. It was not to be. Lu Lan succumbed to the injury bug and faded away after leading her provincial team to a Chinese National Games title in the same year.

    2010 saw a beautiful girl with textbook-perfect techniques crowned World Champion. But barely a month passed, Wang Lin suffered what turned out to be a career ending injury and bid badminton good-bye.

    In 2011, in the shadow of badminton's greatest match in the MS final, Wang YiHan topped the WS podium where she shed tears over her recent trials and tribulations. Misfortunate seemed spared Wang YiHan as she made the Olympic squad in good health. But in 2012, Wang YiHan was passed at flag by a hard charging Li XueRui for the Olympic Gold Medal.

    2003 was the last year that saw its World Champion going on to bigger success, when its World Champion Zhang Ning became the 2004 Olympic Champion. However, the Olympic Champion would lose the next two World Championship finals to Xie XingFang.

    Xie XingFang was not selected for the 2004 Olympic Games. She took revenge by winning six consecutive tournaments that she entered to usher in the Zhang Ning/Xie XingFang era. Xie XingFang was the last repeating WS World Champion (2005 and 2006). In 2008, Xie XingFang entered the Beijing Olympics as the Number 1 seed. During her pre-Olympics training, Xie XingFang fell victim to shingles that drained her energy. Xie XingFang lost the Olympics final to Zhang Ning in three games.

    By 2009 World Championships, 2008 Olympic Champion Zhang Ning already retired from badminton to test the Olympic Champion Curse. However, the 2012 Olympic Champion Li XueRui lost consecutive World Championship finals in 2013 and 2014. Should the Olympic Champion curse hold, Li XueRui would not even make the 2015 World Championship final. But on the bright side, Li XueRui will repeat as the 2016 Olympic Champion.

    In 2013 and 2014, a Thai and a Spaniard became World Champions, respectively. After winning their World Championships, both suffered some degree of injuries but nothing major thus far. After temporary down turns, they carry on like the 2011 World Champion Wang YiHan.

    Was the World Champion Curse broken by Wang YiHan? Is there also an Olympic Champion Curse? We shall see.

  2. #2
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    As someone with a philosophical and scientific bent, I don't quite believe in curses and jinx. Let me talk about LXR's case. In both the WC debacle, she suffered meltdowns, brain-fades, self-destruction, call it what you will,you named it. It wasn't that her form was bad from the start of the tournament. On the contrary, she was playing rather well taking out one opponent after the other from the opening round to the penultimate round in emphatic fashion, particularly in the Copenhagen edition, all in two straight sets by a clear margin.

    Then out of the blue in the ultimate round,she became a totally different player, displaying her worse badminton of the tournament if not the year for her; she was simply unrecognisable, making so many uncharacteristic errors that only amateurs do to practically throw the match away. Whether she was too eager to win, crippled by nerves, caving in under the burden of the pressure of expectation, only she knows, perhaps all of it.

    In other words, it's not so much that her final opponents, Intanon R and C Marin, outplayed and beat her - it was much more like, at risk of sounding cliche, she beat herself. Under normal circumstances in other tournaments she would have bested the two aforementioned opponents , as Chen Jin has put it with respect to Marin at the Copenhagen WC, and I'd say the same for Intanon at the the Guangzhou WC. Incidentally, after that fateful loss to Intanon, LXR went on to stamp her authority on her time after time subsequently.

    At the London Olympics, LXR went there as an underdog with Wang YH and Wang Xin as the highly fancied main contenders for gold. As such, the pressure to deliver was considerably greater upon the shoulders of her two senior colleagues. As a result, LXR was able to play more freely, she rose to the occasion, and the rest is history.

    But, in contrast, at both the WC'13 and WC'14, LXR was the top seed and hot favourite to take the crown, all the responsibility was on her to do the nation proud and carry on the long and distinguished tradition of a CHN WS World Champion. Well, we already know what happened twice in succession, she exhibited the same signs of self-defeating behaviour, inexplicably. She admitted later she has to learn to stay calm and focused and in self-control of her nerves. This to me is something only she can help herself, and I'd like to believe she can overcome it with age and maturity and experience, lots of it.

    Let me say this, if she still cannot overcome it this WC'15 ,it will have a deleterious, long-lasting effect on her extending to the Rio Olympics next year, unfortunately. On the other hand, if she succeeds in overcoming the demon in her and goes on to win the world championship, not only is your so-called WC curse broken, she will be poised to attain true greatness, even taking another Olympic gold and thus put paid to your other worry, the OG curse.

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    One more thing, you seem to take the WC curse and the OG curse as two distinct phenomenons.

    To me they are one and the same for in the Olympic year, the Olympic Games is regarded as the World Championships as far as the BWF is concerned, they are equivalent.

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    However, if the two curses are separate and different, then does it mean you can win one or the other but not both? That would complicate matters as the OG is a quadrennial event while the WC annual.

    Since the great majority of players don't win consecutive Olympic gold does it mean it is a curse to win one? Doesn't make sense to me. Hence, I'd treat the two curses as one and the same thing, i.e. WC-OG or WC/OG curse.

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    Thanks for telling us Xie XF had shingles prior to the Olympics, I was taken aback when she lost to the then 32-yr-old Zhang Ning for the gold medal.

    I enjoyed XXF's dynamic attacking badminton (influenced by Lin Dan?) as much as I appreciated Zhang Ning's gracefulness in movement and shotmaking.

    As XXF won two WC in a row and ZN two Olympic golds consecutively, I would say they weren't plagued by the curse as I treat the WC and OG curses as one and the same. However, if you differentiate the two curses, you have some justification in your claim though.

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    The WC curse did not really start until 2007 Champion Zhu Lin. It sent shivers down the spine after 2010 Champion Wang Lin. 2011 Champion Wang YiHan was therefore closely watched.

    The OG curse is a mixed bag. Although both '04 and '12 Gold Medalists promptly lost two straight WC finals, winning one OG should be plenty enough, let alone winning two.

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    The Olympic final between Zhang Ning and Xie Xingfang was a magnificent encounter between two strong-willed champions. While XXF's preparation might not have been optimal, I don't think there was any excuses to be made. I didn't get the feeling she lost the final because of fatigue. It was an exceptionally hard-fought match that came down to just a few key points deep in the deciding game.

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