It was after five years that China reclaimed the Suhandinata Cup – the BWF World Junior Mixed Team Championships title. The gap was due to losses suffered in 2019 and 2022 – both to Indonesia – and the cancellation of the event in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic.
The Chinese enjoyed a smooth campaign, beating Korea, Japan, Malaysia and Indonesia on successive days to take home their 14th title.
Guo Zhengdong, formerly a top doubles player, and now head coach of the junior team that competed in Spokane, speaks on his satisfaction at their performance and his confidence in their ability to excel at the senior level.
It’s been five years since China won the title. How satisfied were you with their performance?
I’m very excited that we’ve finally won the World Juniors because last year in Spain we didn’t pass the quarterfinal stage. We made some adjustments to the players’ training, their mental approach and lifestyle, which led to our success this year. This team was very united; they are at an age where they are matured and able to deliver the results based on their training. This year the draw wasn’t good for us, as we were drawn along with Korea, but we had a positive mindset in each of our matches and that led them to where we are now.
What were the adjustments in training that you referred to?
The adjustments were mainly in training. We increased the duration of training time to ensure that we come back stronger and more consistent. At this edition they were a year older compared to Santander, they were able to get more tournament exposure in Asia and other international tournaments, and that prepared them in terms of mindset and maturity.
How much of a role did last year’s quarterfinal exit play in your hunger to win the title this time?
Definitely the loss we experienced at the last year’s World Juniors – and not just that, we haven’t won the title since 2018 – we felt that there was something we needed to prove as a team. Also, while the players changed, the coaches were the same, and the draw for the team event came out before we set out. So the coaches and the players who played last time reminded us of that loss, and that motivated us this year. Besides, our performance at the Asian Juniors wasn’t that great, so we had set our mind on the World Juniors.
Will we see many in this group excelling at the senior level in the near future?
In general, the players need to prove themselves, because nobody can do it for them. And when they cross over to the senior level, they need to go through a process where they play the China national competition first, get selected into the first team and then only be able to play the senior tournaments. But I feel that they are all ready to be in the senior first team.