"When you made it here, you could make it anywhere” - This sentence is not only from Frank Sinatra's hit single “New York, New York”, it is also coming from no other than Poul-Erik Høyer, the current Badminton World Federation president, when speaking about the prestigious Yonex All-England Open tournament. Høyer should know what he is talking about as he lifted the All-England trophy twice.
"There is all the history that goes with winning. The best are gathered here and everyone is in good shape and peaking”, the Dane said to BadmintonEngland.
"Winning here gave me the belief that I could win the big tournaments. The feeling was certainly great but the prestige of winning the title is bigger. As the All England was regarded as the de facto World Championships, it is the tournament everyone wanted to win especially as it is close to the end of Olympic qualifying."
For certain European star shuttlers, the participation in of the world's biggest tournaments is definitely not enough. European champion Jan Ø. Jørgensen, for example, is seeking his first title at the All-England. The Dane, who reached the final in last year's edition, will face with Hsu Jen Hao of Taiwan a tricky opener. However, if he makes it to the seconds round of the Premier Superseries event, he may be tested by Ajay Avaram of India or Ng Ka Long Angus. Then the number three seed could face superstar Lin Dan in the quarterfinals.
Before Denmark's Hans-Kristian Vittinghus can worry about a potential second round match against Lee Chong Wei, he has to get out of the first round. Vittunghus opens against Chinese shuttler Wang Zhengming.
Marc Zwiebler (Germany) is up againt Thai veteran Boonsak Ponsana, while Denmark's Viktor Axelsen and Brice Leverdez of France will meet in an interesting all-European affair match in the first round at the Barclaycard Arena. Local hope and English number one Rajiv Ouseph faces India's up-and-coming youngster Kidambi Srikanth.
Recent Yonex All-England champions from Europe:
2015: Carolina Marin & Mathias Boe/Carsten Mogensen
2013: Tine Baun
2011: Mathias Boe/Carsten Mogensen
2010: Tine Baun & Jonas Rasmussen/Lars Paaske
2008: Tine Baun
2006: Jens Eriksen/Martin Lundgaard
2005: Nathan Robertson/Gail Emms
Carolina Marin and the big threat from Asia
In the women’s singles, Carolina Marin’s victory last year raised the profile of European badminton with the top seed facing a big threat from China.
Li Xuerui and Wang Yihan will try to trouble the Spaniard, as will Indian Saina Nehwal, the number two seed who begins against Michelle Li of Canada. Marin will play Korean Bae Yeon-ju in round one.
Chris and Gabby Adcock targeting success at All England Open
Chris and Gabby Adcock are targeting rare British success at the Yonex All England Open Championships as they step up their Olympic preparations.
Great Britain has not enjoyed All England glory since 2005 but the Adcocks offer hope after a year in which they have continued to make waves at the top of the world game.
The married mixed doubles pair, who are currently ranked seventh in the world, enjoyed a career highlight last December as they triumphed at the prestigious season-ending World Superseries Finals in Dubai.
Coming after Commonwealth Games gold in 2014 and another notable Superseries win in Hong Kong the previous year, it was another victory that marked them out as serious contenders for the top prizes.
None will come bigger than the Olympics in Rio this summer, but a strong run at the All England at Birmingham's Barclaycard Arena this week, in the sport's most venerable event, would be another major statement.
"We have got All England coming up. It is a tournament we are wanting to peak for. We really want to do well there with the history behind the All England, it is almost the 'Wimbledon' of badminton," said Gabby Adcock.
"In the Superseries nobody takes anybody lightly. Everybody knows on the day anybody can beat anybody. We have been up there for a while now and we have won events before. I think we have improved and we will keep on improving and gaining experience."
Chris Adcock says the victory in Dubai, when he and his wife came through a field containing many of the world's elite pairs, has given them a big lift for the year ahead.
"It was massive, definitely our biggest career win. It was a really special moment and hopefully something we can do again. It's given us confidence for a big year going into the All England and with Rio on the horizon," he said.
The main draw
of the 550.000 Dollars event starts on Wednesday morning.
For more information, visit the official tournament website at http://www.allenglandbadminton.com
Article by Manuel Rösler. Photos by BadmintonPhoto.
Quotes of Chris and Gabby Adcock by BadmintonEngland.