.. Now, I want to say it right now that I admire the CBA for everything it has achieved in the past 2-3 decades of being part of the international badminton community. The world has learnt much from their commitment, talent, and unfailing competitive spirit. I won’t go into the other, more debatable aspects of their domination here. But the world has also learnt much from their fantastic infrastructure, and dedication to the spirit of continuity. Continuity? Hmmmm…. I have this sinking feeling that China badminton is fast approaching a crossroads. The golden era is probably fast coming to an end. Consider… Lin Dan won’t be around for long. Chen Jin may possibly retire even before LD. And Chen Long may not last Too Long (pardon the pun!) given his unique physical style. The other Men’s singles players get regularly tossed around and put down by players from other countries. And there is no youngster with real potential on the horizon. So much for the future of Men’s Singles. Women’s singles, admittedly, looks in much better health. Apart from bossing the format to completely, the CBA actually have a lot of new, young talent coming up through the ranks, who have the potential to replace their compatriots right at the top. So far, so good. But look out for the ambush! Champion-material girls are sprouting up everywhere: Korea, Thailand, Japan, Indonesia and India, to name a few. It’s going to be a distinctly slippery slope within the next 2-3 years, once WX is gone, WYH is slowing down, and LXR is left holding the ball with some partial assist. Men’s doubles have leant far too heavily for too long on their star pair, CY/FHF; admittedly just like, in fact, most of the other top countries. No depth. In fact, the Koreans have a lot more depth in this format, and are due to dominate it within the next year or so, and there onwards for a long, long time. China can safely say goodbye to their position in this format. They don’t really have any pairs coming up to be real challengers. Besides, other pairs from other countries are creeping up on CB/GZD, who look distinctly shaky even where they are at the moment. Womens’ doubles poses an interesting situation. They have 2 top pairs who boss the world. But both pairs could be reaching their best-before date in the next 1-2 years. At the same time, the girls from Korea, Japan and possibly Thailand are making their moves, and there is every likelihood that INA/MAS and others will be snapping at the heels of all the above. BYX/ZQX look promising, but can they fill those tall shoes? Time will tell, I suppose, but they’ll be fighting for their lives against the girls from elsewhere. It’s going to be a free-for-all, and I suspect once again, the Koreans will slip out from under and run away with the prize. The mixed doubles format, again have 2 pairs from China leading the world; but only just! Both pairs have had their ups and downs against some of the other top players, but have managed to keep their noses ahead in the rankings. But that’s all; look beyond them, and it’s like falling off the edge of a cliff. The next best Chinese pair is HHB/BYX, and HHB is due to start cashing in his pension, any day now! The XD format is like an international conference, and it’s due to get even more confusing, but I’d watch out for the Koreans, Japanese, Indonesians, Danes, Brits, and (just to tweak the tails of some narrow-minded people,) the Indians. So, is this all LYB’s fault? No, not hardly! He’s done China proud, along with his team of fantastic ex-players-turned-coaches, and not a little help from the techies and wise old men like TXH. But no one, not even the most powerful committee can prevent the winds of change from blowing however they want. To summarize: The cupboard is beginning to look bare. The warning signs are all there. The ups and downs, the kings and clowns, They’ve all played without a care. But now the time is winding down; the coaches have a frown, It’s Indonesia all over again, O Holy Crap! …the future’s a trap! Of iPads, iBirds, and just a memory of the game!