Team China sweeps Thomas & Uber Cup titles in Chengdu

Chinese badminton players celebrate after winning the Thomas  Cup final over Indonesia on May 5, 2024 in Chengdu, Southwest China's Sichuan Province. Photo: Cui Meng/GT

Chinese badminton players celebrate after winning the Thomas Cup final over Indonesia on May 5, 2024 in Chengdu, Southwest China’s Sichuan Province. Photo: Cui Meng/GT

China’s badminton team won both the men’s Thomas Cup and women’s Uber Cup on Sunday as they edged out Indonesia in a thrilling finals.

The men’s team win sealed their 11th Thomas Cup win as the national men’s badminton players defeated Indonesia in the final 3-1, ending a six-year drought, while the women’s team victory is their 16th title at the Uber Cup after a three-year hiatus.

A sensational third-set comeback from male athletes Liang Weikeng and Wang Chang set the momentum for Team China, who are competing at home in Chengdu, Southwest China’s Sichuan Province.

The world doubles No.1 once trailed their opponents and world No.7 Fajar Alfian and Muhammad Rian Adrianto of Indonesia in the third set, but edged them out to the win with 21-18, 17-21, 21-17. 

After Li Shifeng was stunned by Jonathan Christie 21-16, 15-21, 21-17, doubles pair He Jiting and Ren Xiangyu quickly sealed the tournament with 21-11, 21-15 in 38 minutes.

“The level we’re playing against is almost top five in the world, and the intensity every day was incredibly high,” Liang told reporters. 

“The intensity is definitely higher than regular Open tournaments, partly because we have to play six matches, and also because the opponents are of a very high standard,” Wang added. 

Earlier that night, China’s men’s singles world No.2 Shi Yuqi saw off world No.7 Abthony Sinisuka Ginting of Indonesia with a 21-17, 21-6 victory.

“It feels great as I managed to hold up under pressure when it mattered most,” Shi, the team captain, told reporters after his win. 

Shi ended all his matches at the Thomas Cup with victories. 

“Being team captain means extra pressure for sure. But if I allow the weight to burden me with excessive pressure and responsibility, it might hinder my performance on the field. That’s why I am more focused on maintaining a balanced perspective,” Shi said of his mindset during the match.

“Success in sports is a prolonged process, and results come as a culmination of that journey. While winning is undoubtedly a strong desire, without a proper system, success remains elusive.”

This was the 11th win for China at the Thomas Cup, trailing Indonesia who are leading with 14 wins.

Chinese badminton players celebrate after winning the Uber Cup final over Indonesia on May 5, 2024 in Chengdu, Southwest China's Sichuan Province. Photo: Cui Meng/GT

Chinese badminton players celebrate after winning the Uber Cup final over Indonesia on May 5, 2024 in Chengdu, Southwest China’s Sichuan Province. Photo: Cui Meng/GT

Earlier on Sunday, women’s singles world No.2 Chen Yufei led China to a sensational Uber Cup final 3-0 win over Indonesia.

Chen won all her matches at the Uber Cup 2-0, a rare achievement for athletes competing at the Thomas and Uber Cup finals. 

“I think it’s just a normal outcome due to my meticulous preparation, but it doesn’t mean that just because I won 2-0 this time, I’ll win by the same margin next time. There could be mistakes too,” Chen told reporters after the match.

“The foundation of competition lies in wins, losses, and athletic condition. I can certainly learn from the experiences gained from these victories and make improvements.” 

Chen’s major rivals such as An Se-young of South Korea, Akane Yamaguchi of Japan and Tai Tzu-ying of Chinese Taipei were all hampered by injury woes at the Uber Cup, which made Chen have to prevent major injuries before the Olympics.

“It’s important to avoid injuries and illnesses before the Olympics, but I’ll still give it my all during training and especially during matches,” Chen said.

China’s doubles world No.1 Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan recovered from their semifinal fatigue to ease past through their opponents Siti Fadia Silva Ramadhanti and Ribka Sugiarto 21-11, 21-8 in 39 minutes. 

The Chinese duo spent over 1.5 hours in the semifinals against their Japanese counterparts.

Qingchen, who was playing her eighth Uber Cup, indicated after the final that the match might be her final appearance in the 65-year-old tournament.

Luo Yigang, the national team women’s singles coach, noted the mentality was vital for the win.

“The main challenge of this competition came from our own psychology, especially for the young players,” Luo told reporters after the final. 

He singled out He Bingjiao, who sealed China’s win with a 2-1 over Indonesia’s Ester Nurumi Tri Wardoyo.

“After losing the first game, she was able to withstand the pressure and ultimately win. I think this was a very good psychological exercise for her,” Luo said. 

Looking ahead to the Paris Olympics, Luo also underscored psychological preparation and injury prevention.

“Our biggest enemy will be injuries. I believe many outstanding players will recover well, and our players will also strive to compete in the best condition,” Luo said.