(ATR) The remodeled HSBC BWF World Tour Finals, held in Guangzhou, China, was not a happy hunting ground for the title favorites.
Wang Yilyu and Huang Dongping won Mixed Doubles title in Guangzhou (BadmintonPhoto)
Kento Momota of Japan came into the season-ending tournament off a dominant season but he lost to China’s Shi Yuqi in the men’s singles final.
The women’s singles favorite Tai Tzu Ying had to retire with a hamstring injury during the group matches. The top seeds in men’s doubles, Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo, had to withdraw during the group matches due to an injury to Gideon.
The mixed doubles favorites Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong fell in the final to their fellow Chinese Wang Yilyu and Huang Dongping, who hadn’t beaten them in their previous seven matches.
Only in the women’s doubles did form hold as the top seeds Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi won the crown.
The signature event of the badminton season, the World Tour Finals was part of a restructuring of the World Tour by the Badminton World Federation that took effect at the beginning of 2018. Only the cream of the crop qualified for the season-ending tournament, which featured a total prize pool of $1.5 million.
This was the first of a four-year deal for Guangzhou to host the Finals, which were previously held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The tournament was also rebranded from the “BWF Superseries Finals” to the “HSBC WBF World Tour Finals”.
Neutral Athletes Must Apply for 2019
Approved neutral athletes for the 2018 athletics season must re-apply to retain neutral status for 2019.
The International Association of Athletics Federations decided at its Council Meeting in December to not reinstate the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF). As part of its roadmap for reinstatement, Russian athletes that meat certain qualifications can apply to compete as neutral athletes.
In 2018, 73 Russian athletes competed as Authorized Neutral Athletes according to the IAAF. In addition, six athletes had their ANA status revoked, and 68 athletes’ applications were denied.
“As Taskforce chairperson Rune Andersen reported to Council on 4 December, RusAF continue to work hard at reforming Russian track and field, but two of the verification criteria have not yet been met,” Seb Coe, IAAF President, said in a statement. “So that we can continue to safeguard the interests of clean athletes worldwide, we have today issued updated guidelines for Russian athletes seeking authorized neutral status to compete internationally next year.”
The 2019 season will be a World Championship season for athletics. At the 2017 World Championships in London ANA athletes won six medals. Should RusAF not be reinstated before the 2019 championships in Doha, Russian athletes would once again compete as neutrals.
Last Olympic Ticket of 2018 to France
France won the last Olympic qualification place on offer in 2018 with a historic triumph in the recent European Women's Handball Championship.
France win European Handball Championship (EHF/Sasa Pahic Szabo/Kolektiff Images)
The first Olympic ticket this season had also been contested by women in another team sport, soccer, when in April Brazil won the Copa América.
In 2018 some world championships awarded classifications for the 2020 Olympic Games and other international tournaments began to provide points to the individual rankings of the competitors in their aspirations to be in the Japanese capital.
The main flow of the Olympic tickets will open from the second half of 2019 according to the calendars of the international federations endorsed by the International Olympic Committee.
Meanwhile, the French are celebrating their 24-21 triumph in the final of the European handball over the Olympic champions Russia, a victory that means they will be at the Olympic gym Yoyogi Tokyo for the 2020 tournament.
The final on Sunday in Paris was a repeat of the decisive match for the Olympic title in Rio de Janeiro 2016, won by the Russians.
The unimaginable thing is that neither Russia nor France had won a European Championship before. The Russians are Olympic champions and four-time world champions. The French, double world champions and Olympic runners-up in Rio.
Will the final of Rio and Paris be repeated in about 18 months in Tokyo?
Written by Gerard Farek, Aaron Bauer and Miguel Hernandez
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