Sat, 16 Dec 2000

Badminton body delays GP Finals in Brunei

JAKARTA (JP): The International Badminton Federation (IBF) announced on Friday the delay of the World Grand Prix Finals in Brunei Darussalam, due to the Ramadhan and Chinese New Year holidays.

The US$250,000 six-star annual event, originally scheduled to take place from Feb. 14 to Feb. 18 2001, will now be staged from March 28 to April 1, immediately prior to the Japan Open.

Reports have said that Brunei has yet to be confirmed as the host despite its three-year contract with the IBF to host the event since 1998.

During his visit to Jakarta for the Asian Badminton Confederation meeting in early November, IBF chief director Neil Cameron said that India would probably take over as the host.

The IBF also failed to increase the prize money to $300,000, as expected by Cameron.

The Olympic men's singles medalists, gold medal winner Ji Xinpeng of China, silver medalist Hendrawan of Indonesia and bronze medalist Xia Xuanze of China, are top seeds for the event.

Indonesia's world number four Taufik Hidayat will definitely miss the event after being banned from two tournaments, the Korean Open and the World Grand Prix Finals, by the Badminton Association of Indonesia after the 19-year-old shuttler launched a verbal attack on chairman Subagyo Hadisiswoyo.

The 1996 Olympic gold medalist Poul-Erik Hoyer-Larsen will also be absent following his retirement from badminton at the Danish Open in October. Hoyer-Larsen is now working as a marketing manager for state-owned company TeleDanmark.

In the men's doubles, Indonesians Flandy Limpele and Eng Hian top the seeding list followed by teammates, and Olympic gold medalists, Candra Wijaya and Tony Gunawan. Compatriots Sigit Budiarto and Halim Heryanto are seeded fifth.

Olympic silver medalists Lee Dong-soo and Yoo Yong-sung of South Korea are third seededs followed by Jens Eriksen and Jesper Larsen of Denmark, ranked fourth.

Indonesian Olympic mixed doubles silver medalists Tri Kusherjanto and Minarti Timur are the third seeds following Michael Sogaard and Rikke Olsen of Denmark, and Simon Archer and Joanne Goode of England.

With Goode's retirement due to pregnancy, it is still unclear whether Archer can compete with a different partner.

None of Indonesia's women's singles or doubles players were invited to the event.

In the women's singles, Camilla Martin heads the list, followed by the usual onslaught of Chinese players: Gong Zhichao in second, Dai Yun in third and Gong Ruina is in fourth place.

In the women's doubles, Chinese Huang Nanyan and Yang Wei top the seeds followed by two-time Olympics gold medalists Ge Fei and Gu Jun. With the Chinese press having reported the resignation of Ge and Gu, it is unclear if the pair will attempt to win a seventh consecutive Grand Prix Finals title before bowing out of international competition.

The World Grand Prix Finals take on a round-robin format in the first round, with singles players grouped in four divisions, and two groups of four in doubles.

In the singles event, the group winners progress to contest the semifinals, while in doubles the winners of group A play the runners-up of group B, and vice versa, in the semis.

National associations must confirm their players' attendance by Jan. 1 2001, to enable the group draw to be rostered in the New Year. (yan)