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April 20, 1998 (NEW SHUTTLENWS) - Yang Yang of China, the only player to have won badminton's men's singles world championship twice (1987 and 1989), and compatriot Zhao Jian Hua, the world champion in 1991, have put in their entry forms for the badminton competition at the 1998 World Masters Games. The Games, which are being held in Portland, Oregon in the United States of America in mid-August, are the equivalent of the Olympic Games for those aged 30 and over, and are held once every four years.

The 34-year old Yang Yang and the 33-year old Zhao, nicknamed Zhao Kapow for his explosive jumpsmash, have entered to play in the elite division of the 30+ age group. The former world champions will be competing in their specialty, the men's singles, and will also be pairing up to try to capture top honors in the men's doubles event.

According to Don Boje, the Games commissioner for badminton, other top-rated entries to date include Ximing Yao, a member of one of China's Thomas Cup champion teams, Andy Chong (Chong Weng Kai), a former Malaysian national team player and the current US men's and mixed doubles champion, and Ignatius Rusli, a highly-ranked Indonesian junior player in his youth.

The Games badminton commissioner also indicated that Ardy Wiranata of Indonesia, the 1992 Olympic Games silver medalist in men's singles and a world championships runner-up to Yang Yang in 1989, may be participating at the World Masters Games. Wiranata is currently in the process of moving to Colorado Springs where he will be studying Physical Education as well as coaching the U.S. national badminton development team. The 28-year old Ardy though may be underage for the actual World Masters Games competition, but Mr. Boje hopes to have Ardy present at the Games in one capacity or another.

Less-skilled players do not have to worry about clashing with any of these top-caliber athletes, because the badminton competition as well as the 24 other sports at the Games are divided into two categories - elite for the international, national and top regional competitors, and competitive for the lower-rated competitors and for social and recreational players. World Masters Games individual competition is also split into 5-year age groups starting from age 30 to age 70 and up. Team competition is categorized in 10-year age groups starting from age 30.

The 1998 World Masters Games opens in Portland on August 9. The individual badminton competition will be from August 17 to 20 at the 9-court Multnomah Athletic Club in Portland and at the 18-court Tualatin Hills Recreation Center in Beaverton. The team competition will be held August 21 and 22. The deadline for entries to the 1998 World Masters Games is May 31.

(More information about the 1998 World Masters Games may be found on www.worldmasters.org).