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** This NEW SHUTTLENWS report is presented by YANG YANG Badminton Products and their Western USA agents BADMINTON ALLEY. **

February 22, 1999 (NEW SHUTTLENWS) - The world's best badminton players are gathering this week in Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital of the oil-rich sultanate of Brunei to compete in the 1998 World Grand Prix Finals, the closing tournament of the 1998 major international tournament circuit. The Grand Prix Finals are usually held in early December, but the 1998 edition has been held off until this week because of a conflict with the Asian Games last December, followed by various major Western, Muslim and Asian religious and cultural holidays.

Sixteen of the world's best available men's singles players, twelve of the best in women's singles, eight super-elite men's doubles pairs, eight of the top women's doubles combinations, and eight world-beating mixed doubles teams will be contesting with their fellow superstars for the distinction of being the best in their event in 1998 as well as for a share of the 300,000 US dollars purse.

World number one Peter Gade of Denmark leads the men's singles entries. World champion Ye Zhaoying is the favorite in women's singles. 1996 Olympic gold medalists Rexy Mainaky and Ricky Subagja top the men's doubles contestants. China's Ge Fei and Gu Jun, reigning Olympic and world champions, are the picks in women's doubles, and the mixed doubles tandem of Michael Sogaard and Rikke Olsen are the number one seeds in their event.

Some players who qualified to compete as one of the badminton super-elite but who are not playing include women's singles aces Susi Susanti and Kim Ji Hyun, the women's doubles pair of Qin Yiyuan and Tang Hetian, and the mixed doubles combination of Chen Gang and Tang Hetian. Susanti is 6 months pregnant, while Kim is reportedly recovering from injury. Tang Hetian had knee surgery after the Asian Games and her condition has taken her out of two events. Qin is out because she and Tang qualified as a pair and no substitutions are permitted. Chen Gang is out of the mixed doubles, where he qualified with Tang Hetian, but will be playing in men's singles as one of the world's sixteen best in that event.

The next player or pair in the world rankings as of the end of November 1998 were invited to replace the absent qualifiers.

Among those top players and pairs who did not qualify are men's singles world champion Peter Rasmussen, who was out of competition for a great part of last year due to injury, mixed doubles world champion Liu Yong who concentrated on the men's doubles event last year (his world champion partner Ge Fei is competing in the women's doubles event), men's doubles world champions Chandra Wijaya and Budiarto Sigit, who are out because of Sigit's one-year suspension for steroid use, and Fung Permadi, the current hot player on the tour with two championships in a row early this year. Fung, the 1996 World Grand Prix Finals winner, did not perform very well last year with his only tour championship being the one-star U.S. Open.

The sixteen men's singles players competing at the Grand Prix Finals have been grouped into four pools of four. The four players in each group will play each other in a round-robin that starts on Wednesday and ends on Friday. The player with the best record in each pool after the round-robin moves into the knockout semifinals to be played on Saturday.

The twelve women's singles players have been grouped into four pools of three. Like the men's singles players, the women will go thru a round-robin stage with the best in each pool moving into Saturday's semifinals.

The eight men's doubles pairs are pooled into two groups of four for the round-robin stage. The best two in each group will move into the semifinals. The women's and mixed doubles competition format is the same as the men's doubles.

The finals for all five events will be held on Sunday afternoon.

The complete list of entries and their groupings:

Men's Singles
Group A - Peter Gade (Denmark), Chen Gang (China), Thomas Johansson (Sweden), Rashid Sidek (Malaysia)
Group B - Luo Yigang (China), Ong Ewe Hock (Malaysia), Kenneth Jonassen (Denmark), Heryanto Arbi (Indonesia)
Group C - Yong Hock Kin (Malaysia), Hendrawan (Indonesia), Dong Jiong (China), Jeroen Van Dijk (Netherland)
Group D - Sun Jun (China), Poul-Erik Hoyer-Larsen (Denmark), Budi Santoso (Indonesia), M. Roslin Hashim (Malaysia)

Women's Singles
Group A - Ye Zhaoying (China), Zhou Mi (China), Karolina Ericsson (Sweden)
Group B - Mia Audina (Indonesia), Zhang Ning (China), Mette Pedersen (Denmark)
Group C - Camilla Martin (Denmark), Dai Yun (China), Margit Borg (Sweden)
Group D - Gong Zhichao (China), Yasuko Mizui (Japan), Kelly Morgan (Wales)

Men's Doubles
Group A - Rexy Mainaky and Ricky Subagja (Indonesia), Peter Axelsson and Par-Gunnar Jonsson (Sweden), Flandy Limpele and Eng Hian (Indonesia), Zhang Wei and Zhang Jun (China)
Group B - Simon Archer and Chris Hunt (England), Tony Gunawan and Hariyanto Halim (Indonesia), Jens Eriksen and Jesper Larsen (Denmark), Denny Kantono and Antonius Budi Ariantho (Indonesia)

Women's Doubles
Group A - Ge Fei and Gu Jun (China), Ann Jorgensen and Majken Vange (Denmark), Joanne Goode and Donna Kellogg (England), Haruko Matsuda and Yoshiko Iwata (Japan)
Group B - Marlene Thomsen and Rikke Olsen (Denmark), Eliza Nathanael and Deyana Lomban (Indonesia), Huang Nanyan and Yang Wei (China), Nicole Van Hooren and Lotte Jonathans (Netherland)

Mixed Doubles
Group A - Michael Sogaard and Rikke Olsen (Denmark), Jon Holst-Christensen and Ann Jorgensen (Denmark), Quinten Van Dalm and Nicole Van Hooren (Netherland), Kim Dong Moon and Ra Kyung Min (Korea)
Group B - Trikus Heryanto and Minarti Timur (Indonesia), Simon Archer and Joanne Goode (England), Jens Eriksen and Marlene Thomsen (Denmark), Janek Roos and Helene Kirkegaard (Denmark)

The prize money distribution (in US dollars):

Men's Singles
Champion - 18,600; Runner-Up - 11,400; Losing Semifinalists - 7,200 each , Group Second-placers - 3,600 each; Third-placers - 2,700 each; Fourth-placers - 2,100 each

Women's Singles
Champion - 15,300; Runner-Up - 9,900; Losing Semifinalists - 5,400 each, Group Second-placers - 3,300 each; Third-placers - 2,400 each

Men's Doubles
Champion Pair - 19,500; Runner-Up Pair - 13,500; Losing Semifinalists - 8,400 each pair, Group Third-placers - 2,400 each pair; Fourth-placers - 1,800 each pair

Women's Doubles
Champion Pair - 17,700; Runner-Up Pair - 11,400; Losing Semifinalists - 8,400 each pair, Group Third-placers - 2,100 each pair; Fourth-placers - 1,200 each pair

Mixed Doubles
Champion Pair - 17,700; Runner-Up Pair - 11,400; Losing Semifinalists - 8,400 each pair, Group Third-placers - 2,100 each pair; Fourth-placers - 1,200 each pair


Posted With The Permission Of The Copyright Holder.

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