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Thursday, June 30, 2011

'Saina can end Chinese domination'

With 13 titles and former world No 1 tag to his name, Xiong Guabao can easily pass off as one of badminton’s greats. But in a country that has produced ‘n’ number of world champions, and continues to do so, his achievements have gone fairly unnoticed.
Perhaps, that’s the downside of being a Chinese badminton player who has managed to win every other title but the world championship or an Olympic gold. Guabao is quick to admit that but at the same time, refrains from talking much about it.

“I feel the players today are much better. There is no doubt about it,” he said here on Wednesday. “Guys like Lin Dan, who I feel is the greatest ever badminton player, have taken the sport to the next level.”

Such is the Chinese shuttlers’ domination that Guabao believes that no country can come close to challenging them for many more years. That’s until a name suddenly strikes him. “No one. No one can challenge Chinese players. They are way ahead than everyone,” he said via a translator, before interrupting him.

“Saina…” he said, adding, “She is the only one in the world who can end the Chinese domination. That girl, she needs put in more effort, devote more time and prepare herself in a thorough way to do that. But she is the only one capable.” The problem Saina is facing, he felt, was the relatively inferior quality of opponents in the domestic circuit.

“The reason why China is strong is that there are players constantly challenging the ones at the top. But India has only one Saina and that is the problem. She needs more world-class competitors at the domestic level. That will help her a lot,” said Guabao,talking on the sidelines of the launch of Thwack range of sports equipments manufactured by Indian company One Sports.
Meanwhile, managing director of One Group, Akhil Ganatra, said they hoped to make Thwack products available by the end of July.

“We have made an initial investment of around $10 to $15 million. We feel sports will promote a healthier and a fitter lifestyle with a lot of fun. I think the products should be in the market by end of July,” Ganatra said after launching a rangeof badminton rackets andaccessories.

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