At the ongoing 13th Chinese National Games, badminton stars such as Lin Dan and Chen Long are competing for gold, but the Games has also opened its doors to amateur shuttlers for the first time in 30 years, drawing over 200 amateur finalists to compete in badminton events.[Special coverage]
Badminton is one of the most popular sports in China, with many playing badminton as a day-to-day hobby. The category of the amateur badminton at the National Games is exactly the same as the professional competition, including singles and doubles. The amateurs in each category are divided into three groups according to their age.
For the amateurs, two-time Olympic and five-time world champion Lin Dan is a great role model. Lin, who just led Beijing to win their first men's team gold medal yesterday at the National Games, gave some tips for amateurs to improve their badminton skills.
"First of all, amateurs should find a good coach. If you have reached the top of the amateur level and hope to further improve yourself, only hard training is not enough. A good coach is necessary," Lin said.
Amatures were asked a question: if they were to play against Lin, regarded widely as the greatest singles player of all time, how many points would Lin have to give away in the 21-point set in order to allow them to win?
Many amateurs answered this question by saying that Lin giving away points would not be enough: they would also have to get very lucky in order to beat him.
20-year-old Chen Tong from Zhejiang province participated in the amateur men's doubles at the National Games. He is a top badminton player at his university and plays badminton four to five times per week.
"If I play against Lin, he has to give away at least 15 points. Then I will spare no effort for the other six points in the set," Chen said with smile.
Chen's partner Li Hanbin is also a top amateur shuttler who previously won bronze at the National Amateur Club Cup. "If Lin gives away 15 points and I'm lucky in the other points, I think I can beat Lin," Li said.
Being asked how many points he has to give away facing an amateur, Lin said sidestepped the question. "Many of my friends took part in the amateur badminton at the National Games. I hope they can perform well," he mused.
Olympic women's and mixed doubles gold medalist Zhao Yunlei said she used to play with amateurs. "If my partner is also professional, our amateur opponent can only score five to six points in one set," Zhao said.
Former women's singles world champion Gong Ruina is now the head coach of the Hunan province amateur badminton team. According to her, amateurs play badminton for fun while professionals play for their career. "Badminton takes lots of time to practice. Amateurs make time to train, but professionals train every day."
54-year-old amateur Guo Xiaohong started to play badminton at the age of 15. Due to a lack of systematic training, he has checked out almost all the badminton books in the library in order to learn the sport.
Guo pointed out that the distance between amateurs and professionals is multidimensional. In terms of physical quality, professionals have special body conditioning, and practice pace and technique on the court every day. But amateurs seldom undertake this level of traning.
In addition, many amateurs don't focus on practicing basic skills. Some neglect preparation and relax before and after the match, which can easily cause injury.