The Podium, a massive indoor sports arena in Spokane, hosts the BWF World Junior Mixed Team Championships 2023 from Monday, marking the first time USA is hosting the world’s premier junior event.
The Podium boasts of a 135,000 square feet facility with a 200-metre, six-lane hydraulically banked track, and seating capacity of 4200.
Around 390 players from 38 teams will take part in the Mixed Team event, which will then be followed by the individual championships from 2 October. The Mixed Team Championships will start with group stages ties staged on nine courts.
The 38 participating teams have been divided into eight groups. Group A has drawn attention for it includes powerhouses China alongside defending champions Korea, besides Australia, Netherlands and Norway.
Here are some of the players to watch:
Alex Lanier (France)
Talked about for a couple of years now as a prodigy, Lanier has already played the Thomas Cup and Sudirman Cup for France. The 18-year-old is ranked No.51 and has impressive results at lower-rung tournaments, winning the Polish Open (International Challenge) this year and the Canada Open (Super 100) last year. He will be seen in Group F where France are with Spain, Ghana, Hong Kong China and Belgium.
Tomoka Miyazaki (Japan)
The women’s singles defending champion, only 17, is a stellar talent and Japan’s next big hope. She made three finals this year, winning two (Saipan International, Guatemala Future Series), but more significantly, made the semifinals of the Indonesia Masters (Super 100) where she beat no less a player than senior compatriot Nozomi Okuhara.
Pitchamon Opatniputh (Thailand)
‘Pink’ Pitchamon Opatniputh is a social media celebrity and Thailand’s brightest prospect. The gifted Thai, still only 16, made the semifinals of the YONEX Taipei Open 2023 (Super 300), and has climbed up to No.57.
Kim Min Ji/Kim Min Sun (Korea)
The twins helped Korea win the team title last year. Both play singles and doubles; at the Dutch Junior International this year they faced each other in the singles final and made the women’s doubles semifinals. Kim Min Ji was also Badminton Asia Junior singles runner-up in July.
Zhu Yi Jun (China)
Zhu was double titlist last year, with Xu Hua Yu in the men’s and Liu Sheng Shu in the mixed. This year he was mixed doubles runner-up at the Dutch and German Junior Internationals, and a double titlist at the Badminton Asia Junior Championships in July.