IMAGE | Yuri Kouzmin
Australia is not known for producing Commonwealth badminton champions, but an exception could be in the making with the talented women’s doubles pair of Gronya Somerville and Setyana Mapasa, who go into GC2018 ranked No. 2 in the Commonwealth.
By Dan Lonergan
Their biggest rivals in their quest to win gold are likely to be the Indian pair Ashwini Ponnappa and N. Sikki Reddy, along with England’s Lauren Smith and Sarah Walker.
Mapasa is one of two Australian debutants in what is an experienced Australian badminton team; the other is the men’s singles representative, Anthony Jo. The rest of the team is made up of the women’s singles players, Wendy Chen, Leanne Choo, Renuga Veeran, and experienced male competitors Sawan Serasinghe, Matthew Chau, Ross Smith and Robin Middleton.
Badminton at the Games will consist of team and individual events involving women’s and men’s singles, women’s and men’s doubles and mixed doubles. In the team’s event, Australia will face South Africa, Uganda and England in their pool in what is a round robin phase at the start of the tournament.
Some of the world’s best players will be on show at these Games. In the men’s singles competition, one of the sport’s greatest ever players Lee Chong Wei from Malaysia, a four time Commonwealth Games gold medallist and triple Olympic medallist, will be looking to add another medal to his impressive tally, but the World No. 2 from India, Kidambi Srikanth will be strong opposition.
In the ladies singles competition, India are expected to feature strongly on the medal dais as reigning Commonwealth Games champion Saina Nehwal and Rio silver medallist PV Sindhu are both competing.
Badminton has been part of the Commonwealth Games since 1966 (or the British Empire Games as it was known) and Australia has twice taken individual gold medals – Audrey Tucker / Mike Scandolera won mixed doubles in 1986 at Edinburgh, Scotland and Lisa Campbell won the women’s singles in 1994 at Victoria, British Colombia.
The badminton competition starts on 5 April and will be held at the Carrara Sports and Leisure Centre.