2005 All News
Nathan confident about Yonex All England title defence
BADMINTON England are bracing themselves for another bumper Yonex All England Open Championships at Birmingham’s National Indoor Arena – despite next month’s Championships being held two months earlier than usual.
The Championships, from January 18-22, have again attracted a top-quality entry from 38 nations including newcomers Turkey. But the entry is especially strong in the mixed doubles where Olympic silver medallists Nathan Robertson and Gail Emms will defend their title against the best pairs in the world.
They will be up against new world champions Nova Widianto and Lilyana Natsir from Indonesia and their old Olympic rivals, the Athens and Sydney gold medallists Zhang Jun and Gao Ling of China.
New Chinese pair Xie Zhongbo and Zhang Yawen, who beat the European champions in the Hong Kong final in November, are also in there along with Denmark’s 2005 All England runners-up Thomas Laybourn and Kamilla Juhl.
Robertson said today: “We are looking forward to defending our title. It’s going to be a big year for us in 2006 and winning the China Open and reaching the Hong Kong final in November has shown we are getting back to peak form after my ankle injury.”
But the quality isn’t just in mixed doubles. The four Chinese stars who dominated the 2005 singles events will be back. Lin Dan, the 2004 winner, will be looking to avenge his defeat by Chen Hong in the 2005 men’s singles final, and their chances of a repeat final have been smoothed by the one notable absentee, world and Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia, not coming to Birmingham. He is recovering from a knee injury and planning for his wedding in February. But former champion Peter Gade and fellow Dane Kenneth Jonassen will lead the European bid along with England No 1 Aamir Ghaffar (Middlesex).
In the women’s singles world champion Zhang Ning will bid for her first All England title but standing in her way will be holder and team-mate Xie Xingfang. England No 1 Tracey Hallam, the Chinese Taipei winner from Burton-on-Trent, will also be looking to claim a few scalps.
China’s Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng, the man with the world record 207.5mph smash, will be strong contenders for the men’s doubles, especially as their final opponents last March, Lars Paaske and Jonas Rasmussen have ended their partnership.
Last but not least the women’s doubles sees Gao Ling and Huang Sui of China bidding to extend their record run to six consecutive titles. But England’s top doubles pair Gail Emms and Donna Kellogg will be trying to gatecrash the Chinese party.
The good news is that despite the Championships coming so early in 2006, ticket sales are outstripping the 2005 sales at the same stage in the countdown to the event.
Tournament director Darren Parks urged: “There’s still time to take advantage of BADMINTON England’s special 10 per cent discount offer on tickets, which runs until the end of the month.
“We are delighted with yet another top-class entry and would like to answer the many inquiries we have received about the new scoring system. The 2006 All England will be played under the traditional 3 x 15 system and not the 3 x 21 rally point system, which will not be introduced for world ranking events until February.”