PETALING JAYA: There are a handful of men’s singles shuttlers in their 30s but Chen Long of China will be the most dangerous among the lot at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Although the Rio Olympic Games champion is 32, he is expected to make life miserable for several younger pre-tournament favourites like Kento Momota of Japan; Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen and Anders Antonsen; as well as Indonesians Anthony Ginting, Jonatan Christie.
Even his younger compatriot and former All-England champion Shi Yuqi will not have it easy against the more experienced Chen Long, a two-time world champion.
The world No. 6 Chen Long has not competed in any international tournaments since losing to Malaysia’s Lee Zii Jia in the quarter-finals of the All-England in 2020 due to travel restrictions in China.
The other men’s singles in their 30s who have qualified for the Tokyo Games are Nguyen Tien Minh of Vietnam (38), Pablo Abian of Spain (36), Brice Leverdez of France (35), Kevin Cordon of Guatemala (34), Raul Must from Finland (33), Misha Zilberman from Israel (32) and Chou Tien-chien from Taiwan (31).
Tien Minh is the oldest in the field but he is not expected to go far in his fourth Olympic Games outing.
World No. 4 Tien-chien is one of the early contenders for an Olympics medal as he has done well in recent tournaments, having reached the semi-finals of all the last three tournaments he competed at the Thailand Open 1, Thailand Open 2 and World Tour Finals.
A total of 38 players have qualified for the men’s singles event.