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All eyes will be on these shuttlers at the mega quadrennial event.

As the Tokyo Olympics approach, the world waits with anticipation. Several Olympians will be looking to make a mark at the quadrennial event, while others will aim to further their legacy. The badminton event will be one of those closely followed sports, with several top athletes looking to win the right to stand on the top step of the podium.

We take a look at the top 10 men’s badminton stars in the world right now:

10. Wang Tzu-wei

The Chinese Taipei badminton star announced himself to the world in 2013, when he won medals at both the Asian Junior Championships and the World Junior Championships. Wang won the bronze in the Asian tournament, before reaching the finals in the world event in Bangkok.

His senior career has seen him win several notable BWF titles, including one World Tour as well as two Grand Prix titles. He was a winner of the 2017 Summer Universiade men’s singles event, beating Kenta Nishimoto in the final in two sets.

9. Shi Yuqi

Badminton Tokyo Olympics
Shi Yu Qi is a genuine contender at the Tokyo Olympics (Courtesy: Get Good at Badminton)

Chinese shuttler Shi Yuqi was a prominent figure in the badminton world from a young age. He started his career by winning the 2013 Asian Youth Games singles title, before winning the gold at the 2014 Asian Junior Championships. He won gold at the Youth Olympics in Nanjing, but lost to countryman Lin Guipu in the World Junior Championships finals in the same year.

His senior career is as impressive as his junior journey. In 2017, he won the bronze medal at the Asian Championships in Wuhan. He made it to the finals of the World Championships a year later, but lost out to Kento Momota. He won the silver medal behind Momota yet again when the duo faced each other at the Asian Championships in 2019. The Olympics would be the perfect setting to carry out Yuqi’s revenge against Momota. The current World No. 11, ranked as high as No. 2 in 2017, will be looking to foil the Japanese’s dreams on home soil at the Tokyo Olympics.

8. Lee Zii Jia

Malaysia’s up and coming badminton sensation is set to take the mantle from Lee Chong Wei as the ‘next big thing’ in the sport. At 23-years- old, Lee Zii Jia is already a phenomenon. Ranked 8th currently, the youngster’s breakout moment came at the 2016 World Junior Championships, when he won bronze in the boys’ singles event in Spain.

Lee has won two BWF World Tour titles, winning the 2021 All England Open by outworking Dane Viktor Axelsen in an exhausting three-set encounter. He also won gold at the 2019 Southeast Asian Games held in the Philippines. He will be aiming for a podium finish at the Tokyo Olympics.

7. Jonatan Christie

The current World No. 7 has had a remarkable badminton career and is a big sensation in his home country. The Indonesian’s biggest victory came at the Asian Games held in Jakarta, where he won the gold medal in the men’s singles event, beating Chou Tien-chen. His victory made him one of the top trending searches in Google Indonesia in 2018. He is one of the top contenders at the Tokyo Olympics.

Christie has won two BWF World Tour Titles, while also finishing as runners-up in three events. His best-ever win came in the 2019 Australian Open. Jonatan beat countryman Anthony Ginting in a thrilling three-set finale. He also won gold at the Southeast Asian Games in 2017 held in Kuala Lumpur.

6. Anthony Sinisuka Ginting

Ginting is Indonesia’s biggest hope at the Tokyo Olympics (Courtesy: Olympics)

The Indonesian shuttler’s first major achievement was at the 2014 World Junior Championships, where he won the bronze medal in the men’s singles event. He followed that up with another bronze at the Youth Olympics.

Anthony has won three BWF World Tour titles, with one of his most memorable victories coming against Kento Momota in the 2018 China Open. He also won the bronze medal in the 2018 Asian Games men’s singles, while winning silver in the team event as well.

5. Chou Tien-chen

Chou Tien-chen became famous after clinching the Chinese Taipei Open singles title in 2016. He became the first local shuttler to do so in 17 years. The 31-year-old has won six BWF World Tour titles and finished as runner-up in six more from 2018 to 2020.

He is a constant presence in the latter stages in almost all badminton tournaments and also won silver at the 2018 Asian Games. He followed that with a third-place finish at the 2019 Asian Championships in Wuhan.

4. Anders Antonsen

Antonsen will be looking for glory at Tokyo Olympics (Courtesy: Wimbledon Club)

Antonsen’s first major victory came at the 2015 European Junior Championships. The Danish player has since pushed himself to be a major figure in badminton, internationally. He won the silver medal at the 2017 European Championships, which he upgraded to a gold in the 2021 tournament. He also won the silver medal at the 2019 World Championships, falling to the current World No. 1 Kento Momota in an one-sided final in Basel.

The World No. 3 will likely remain in the higher eschelons of the badminton world and it would be interesting to see how his rivalry with the others pans out at the Tokyo Olympics.

3. Chen Long

The reigning gold medalist was one of the top-ranked players in badminton singles, occupying the World No. 1 spot from December 2014 to June 2016, for 76 consecutive weeks. Starting his career in 2007, the Chinese ace won the Asian and World Junior Championships in the same year. He then eased to a gold medal in the men’s team event at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games. He won the 2014 and 2015 World Championships, after claiming bronze at the London Olympics.

It was in Rio that the world took notice when he beat his rival Victor Axelsen in the semi-finals and proceeded to the finals to face Lee Chong Wei, who was looking to win his first Olympics gold medal. Long outlasted the Malay shuttler and won the gold. The 32-year-old has since regressed by his standards, managing two bronzes at the 2017 and 2018 World Championships. Currently No. 6, he will be looking to make it two in two at the Tokyo Olympics.

2. Viktor Axelsen

The Danish badminton star has slowly pushed himself to the top of the badminton rankings. The 27-year-old is one of the few returning medalists in Tokyo for badminton, having won the bronze medal in Rio. He will be aiming to get the Olympic crown and add it to his list of laurels at the 2020 Olympics.

Axelsen made a statement at the 2010 World Junior Championships when he won the title and became the first European player to do so. He has since stayed true to his potential, winning multiple titles. The World No. 2 won gold at the 2017 World Championships as well as at the 2016 and 2018 European Championships. He is one of the medal favourites in Tokyo and will be looking to resume his rivalry with Long and Momota.

1. Kento Momota

Momota will be the World No.1 heading into the Tokyo Olympics (Courtesy: BWF)

The current World No.1 shuttler is no scrub. The Japanese badminton star has won nearly all of the accolades that he had the opportunity to compete for. He started with Asian and World Junior Championships bronze medals in 2011, before upgrading both to gold in 2012. He has ruled the Asian stage since then, winning the Asian Championships twice in both 2018 and 2019.

On the world stage, he was as fearsome as ever. He started by winning a bronze at the 2015 tournament in Jakarta when he was 21-years- old. It took him three years, but he made another Asian and World double in 2018 in Nanjing. when he beat Shi Yuqi to his first World Championship gold. He repeated the feat a year later in Basel, this time overpowering Anders Antonsen in an easy outing. Momota’s next challenge is simple – win the Tokyo Olympics gold on home soil. He is one of the top favourites and will be looking to make it count this time around.

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