The inaugural European Games is just weeks away and Badminton Europe today released the list of players that will make history in Baku in June as the first ever participants of a European Games. A total of 160 places across the five different disciplines, men’s & women’s singles, mixed, men’s & women’s doubles, were up for grabs during the qualification process with the world ranking list of 25th March 2015 counting as the cut off point for eligibility after a yearlong race that started in March 2014.
33 countries from across the continent have qualified athletes to participate in Baku between the 22nd and 28th June with the badminton competition taking place in the newly renovated Baku Sports Hall which is a part of the city cluster of venues hosting sports competitions throughout the games. Both the men’s and women’s singles have an allocation of 32 places with just 16 places up for grabs in each of the three doubles events.
2012 Olympic men’s doubles silver medallists and world number two pair Mathias Boe & Carsten Mogensen (Denmark) and reigning European men’s doubles champions Vladimir Ivanov and Ivan Sozonov (Russia) lead the list of badminton stars travelling to Baku as both look to add to their continental haul of major championship medals in the men’s doubles.
London 2012 Olympic women’s doubles bronze medallist Nina Vislova (Russia) will also be one of the favourites next month but swaps the women’s doubles court for the mixed doubles alongside partner Vitalij Durkin. Irish Siblings Sam & Chloe Magee will be the main threat to the Russians with Nøhr & Thygesen (Denmark) & Mittelheisser & Fontaine (France) looking to back up a consistent circuit season with medals for Denmark and France.
Ireland's Scott Evans leads the line in the men’s singles after a qualification period that saw the world number 25 win on two separate continents. The singles events also offer opportunity for the smaller nations to take their place amongst the sports elite and local player Kanan Rzayev (WR 701) will be sure to have a huge local support behind him in Baku.
Irish star Evans said of these inaugural games: “This European Games has been a long time coming and is sure to be a fantastic event. I cannot wait to get there and step on court and be a part of European history. I am sure the European Games will grow to be as big as the Olympic Games someday and I want to say I was there from the beginning”
The women’s singles also offers the opportunity for the smaller nations to mix it up with the more established and prospective medal contenders on the big stage. Fiorella Marie Sadowski (WR 738) of Malta will represent one of Badminton Europe’s newest member associations while Denmark (Kjærsfeldt & Madsen), Bulgaria (Zetchiri & Nedelcheva), Russia (Perminova & Polikarpova) & Ireland’s Chloe Magee will be the ones to watch as potential podium prospects.
The women’s doubles will see Bulgarian siblings Gabriela and Stefani Stoeva look to add European Games gold to the European Junior Championship title they won 2013. Once again Russia, who are strong across all five disciplines, will be the biggest threat to the Bulgarians with Danish duo Maria Helsbøl and Lena Grebak the pair that all seeds will be looking to avoid early in the draw.
The seeding for the event will be based on the world ranking list as of 28th May 2015 with the draw conducted on June 2nd.
Here is the full list of all qualified athletes for the 2015 European Games in Baku:
Article by Mark Phelan. Photo by BadmintonPhoto.