England's Archer and Hunt, Malaysia's Lee and Choon On The Bubble
by Mike Grossman

November 19, 1996 (New Shuttlenws) - With his impressive win over world number one Joko Suprianto of Indonesia in the finals of the badminton Thailand Open on Saturday, Chinese singles ace Dong Jiong gained 360 Grand Prix ranking points and managed to qualify for the big money (for badminton) Grand Prix Finals to be held in Denpasar on the exotic Indonesian island of Bali from December 4 to 8.

Only the top 16 men's singles performers on the badminton Grand Prix circuit for 1996 will get invitations for the Finals, as will the 12 top women's singles performers and 8 top pairs each in the men's, women's and mixed doubles events.

Dong was languishing in 28th place at the start of the Thailand Open and needed at least a runner-up finish to squeeze into the Finals list or a title victory to ensure his invitation. His 15-13 and 15-7 win over Suprianto in Bangkok enabled him to vault into an untouchable 11th place, with this week's Vietnam Open the last Grand Prix event for the year.

Dong, the Olympic silver medalist, joins gold medalist Poul-Erik Hoyer-Larsen of Denmark and bronze medalist Rashid Sidek of Malaysia in the list of certain qualifiers.

Just out of the qualifying list in 17th and 18th places are Danish players Martin Lundgaard Hansen and Peter Gade Christensen. One of the two could make the trip to Bali if the injured Ong Ewe Hock is unable to play. Or it could be Indonesia's Salim at the 19th spot, if Ong does decide not to play at the last minute.

With almost no chance at all of getting an invitation are world champion Heryanto Arbi of Indonesia (22nd place) and world siver medalist Park Sung Woo of Korea (33rd place).

In men's doubles, the red-hot team of Chandra Wijaya and Sigit Budiarto leaped into the qualifying list with their third Open championship in four tries this year - the Thailand Open. They came from the 11th spot in last week's rankings to the 4th position this week.

The pair of Simon Archer and Chris Hunt of England and the tandem of Lee Wan Wah and Choong Tan Fook of Malaysia are on the bubble. Archer and Hunt are in the eighth qualifying spot but the Malaysian pair is only 5 Grand Prix points behind. With the English duo not entered in the Vietnam Open, Lee and Choong only have to show up for their first match in Ho Chi Minh City to gain enough Grand Prix points to get past Hunt and Archer.

In women's singles, Chinese players Gong Zhichao and Zeng Yaqiong are also on the bubble. Gong is in 12th place with Zeng 75 Grand Prix points behind. Gong is idle this week while Zeng is the top seed in the Vietnam Open and has a good chance to pass Gong. Whatever the outcome of the Vietnam Open, Gong or Zeng could still get an invitation if 7th-placer Mia Audina of Indonesia is unable to recover from the knee injury that she sustained in a quarterfinal match in Bangkok last week.

(Knowledgeable observers point out that the Indonesians could delay making a decision about Audina until the last minute so that an Indonesian player would get the nod if Audina is unable to play. The Indonesian player who would be invited in this case would be either Lidya Djaelawidjaya or Yuliani Santoso).

Olympic gold medalist Bang Soo Hyun of Korea who retired soon after her victory in Atlanta is in 14th place.

In women's doubles, 9th placers Nicola Beck and Joanne Davies from England could make the list if Eliza of Indonesia is unable to recover from the illness the caused her and partner Rosiana Zelin to drop out of the recent Hong Kong and Thailand Opens.

However, 14th-placers Peng Xingyong and Zhang Jin of China, who are second-seeds in this week's Vietnam Open, could gain enough points with a title victory over a weak field to squeeze in past Beck and Davies, should Eliza and Zelin be forced to withdraw.

In mixed doubles, 9th placers Jan-Eric Antonsson and Astrid Crabo of Sweden should get an invitation in place of the 3rd-ranking pair of Park Joo Bong and Ra Kyung Min, due to Park's retirement.

Olympic champions Kim Dong Moon and Gil Young Ah who have not competed together since Atlanta are in 13th place and will not be at the Grand Prix Finals.

The potential qualifiers for the badminton World Grand Prix Finals, in order of Grand Prix ranking as of today (total 1996 Grand Prix points in parentheses):


1. Poul-Erik Hoyer-Larsen - Denmark (1660 points)
2. Joko Suprianto - Indonesia (1485)
3. Fung Permadi - Chinese Taipei (1450)
4. Rashid Sidek - Malaysia (1290)
5. Thomas Stuer-Lauridsen - Denmark (1275)
6. Ong Ewe Hock - Malaysia (1260)
7. Sun Jun - China (1020)
8. Hu Zhilan - China (985)
9. Soren Nielsen - Denmark (975)
10. Kim Hak Kyun - Korea (865)
11. Dong Jiong - China (790)
12. Allan Budi Kusuma - Indonesia (745)
13. Chen Gang - China (720)
14. Hermawan Susanto - Indonesia (715)
14. Budi Santoso - Indonesia (715)
16. Indra Wijaya - Indonesia (705)


1. Camilla Martin - Denmark (1630 points)
2. Wang Chen - China (1575)
3. Zhang Ning - China (1465)
4. Susi Susanti - Indonesia (1430)
5. Yao Yan - China (1195)
6. Han Jingna - China (1080)
7. Mia Audina - Indonesia (1055)
8. Kim Ji Hyun - Korea (930)
8. Meiluawati - Indonesia (930)
10. Christine Gandrup - Sweden (920)
11. Ye Zhaoying - China (910)
12. Gong Zhichao - China (875)
or Zeng Yaqiong - China (800)


1. Antonius Iriantho/Denny Kantono - Indonesia (1695 points)
2. Cheah Soon Kit/Yap Kim Hock - Malaysia (1540)
3. Ricky Subagja/Rexy Mainaky - Indonesia (1390)
4. Chandra Wijaya/Sigit Budiarto - Indonesia (1260)
4. Tony Gunawan/Rudy Wijaya - Indonesia (1260)
6. Jon Holst-Christensen/Thomas Lund - Denmark (1170)
7. Peter Axelsson/Par-Gunnar Jonsson - Sweden (1095)
8. Chris Hunt/Simon Archer - England (1090)
or Lee Wan Wah/Choong Tan Fook - Malaysia (1085)


1. Helene Kirkegaard/Rikke Olsen - Denmark (2105 points)
2. Lisbet Stuer-Lauridsen/Marlene Thomsen - Denmark (1855)
3. Indarti Isoliana/Denyana Lomban - Indonesia (1660)
4. Eliza/Rosiana Zelin - Indonesia (1460)
5. Julie Bradbury/Joanne Goode - England (1215)
6. Qin Yiyuan/Tang Yongshu - China (1060)
7. Ge Fei/Gu Jun - China (960)
8. Christine Gandrup/Marina Andrievskaya - Sweden (785)


1. Michael Sogaard/Rikke Olsen - Denmark (2375)
2. Tri Kusheryanto/Minarti Timur - Indonesia (1975)
3. Park Joo Bong/Ra Kyung Min - Korea (1440)
4. Nick Ponting/Joanne Goode - England (1245)
5. Chen Xingdong/Peng Xingyong - China (1240)
6. Simon Archer/Julie Bradbury - England (1230)
7. Thomas Stavngaard/Ann Jorgensen - Denmark (1215)
8. Nimpele Flandy/Rosalina Riseu - Indonesia (1095)
*9. Jan-Eric Antonsson/Astrid Crabo - Sweden (995) in place of Park/Ra