A knee injury may have curtailed Carolina Marin’s preparations for the BWF World Superseries Finals but the world number one is determined to do what she can to win an elusive title in Dubai.
The 23-year-old, who clinched the Olympic gold medal in Rio in August, suffered a 18-21, 22-24 defeat to Sun Yu of China in the opening group stage match at Hamdan Sports Complex Wednesday.
The Spanish shuttler is yet to win a superseries title in 2016 and is bidding to end an injury-hit but memorable year on a high at the season-ending climax in the UAE.
Her success in Brazil has spearheaded the development of badminton in Spain, where peripheral sports struggle for funding behind football, basketball and tennis.
“I think we are growing and many people in Spain know about badminton now,” Marin told Sport360. “It’s impressive that many people want to follow it on TV. They want to know everything about me and what tournaments I’m going to play. They are really excited about badminton.”
“We had a little break (after the Olympics). I had to take care of my body in the last tournament. It was really painful so I want to take care of my body because it’s really important and I’ll try to do my best,” said Marin.
Despite the restrictions in her movement, Marin produced a string of sensational performances, reaching the semi-finals in Hong Kong and Denmark recently.
In Hong Kong, she forced a third set in her last four defeat to Tai Tzu-ying, but it was a display that should provide her with plenty of confidence if she is to have a real shot at glory on Dubai soil.
Marin may be out of the running to win the overall Destination Dubai title, but the two-time world champion has enough skill and resilience to reach the final if she beats Akane Yamaguchi and in-form PV Sindhu Thursday and Friday.
“Everyone wants to beat me. I’m the only European that has been top of the world rankings and it’s like I broke China or a nation wall,” added Marin.
“I want to enjoy every game and I will try to win here because it’s one of the tournaments that I’ve never won. It’s, of course, one of my goals.”
Jorgensen, 28, has more than made up for flopping at the Rio 2016 Olympics by helping Denmark to an opening triumph in the prestigious Thomas Cup and becoming the first non-Asian to lift the China Open. These triumphs saw him top the Destination Dubai rankings for the elite season-ending competition, where he opens this morning at Hamdan Sports Complex versus Hong Kong’s Hu Yun in the men’s singles.
He said: “These Finals have been going on for quite awhile and [iconic retired countrymen] Peter Gade has won it when it was called the World Badminton Grand Prix Finals, so to be honest the Thomas Cup was a bigger achievement from a Danish point of view as we’d never won it.
“China as well, because it is like a legendary tournament to win from a non-Asian. I am really proud to have won these tournaments.
“But of course this is the best of the best. You really want to do well here as well, so it will be a big achievement to win this one.”
Danish sport is traditionally associated with football, where the likes of the Laudrup brothers – Michael and Brian – became global stars.
The Golden Shuttle awards for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games champions went to Carolina Marin of Spain [Women’s Singles], Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi of Japan [Women’s Doubles] and Tontowi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir of Indonesia [Mixed Doubles] and Chen Long of China [Men’s Singles].
Long’s coach, Xia Xuanze, accepted the award for his charge, while Liu Yuchen and Li Junhui of China collected the Golden Shuttle Men’s Double awards for their compatriots; Fu Haifeng and Zhang Nan.
The Female Para-Badminton Player of the Year winner, Karin Suter-Erath of Switzerland, was unable to attend last night’s function and will receive her prize at next season’s Swiss Open tournament.
The male equivalent was snapped up by Lucas Mazur of France while Woon Khe Wei and Viktor Axelsen picked up best dressed awards.
Male Player of the Year went to Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei and Most Promising Player of the Year was picked up by Chen Qingchen of China.
The prizes were handed out by BWF Deputy President Gustavo Salazar Delgado and His Excellency Dawood Al Hajri,President, UAE Table Tennis and Badminton Association, who gave India’s PV Sindhu the inaugural BWF Most Improved Player of the Year gong.