In the League of Greats

In the League of Greats

Two pairs in contemporary badminton can lay claim to be among the all-time greats in their categories: Chen Qing Chen/Jia Yi Fan and Zheng Si Wei/Huang Ya Qiong.

Year on year, the two Chinese pairs have demonstrated a remarkable ability to evolve and stay ahead of their hungry competitors. While several of their peers have faded into the distance, both pairs appear harder than ever to beat, and are firm favourites as Paris 2024 comes into sight.

And while there are the occasional hiccups, they have the drive to bounce back quickly and affirm their position on top of the table.

Zheng Si Wei and Huang Ya Qiong

The classic example is Tokyo 2020 – both pairs lost the finals. Yet, far from dispiriting them, the experience only served to make them stronger over the last two and a half years.

Or consider Zheng/Huang’s surprise loss in the final of the TotalEnergies BWF World Championships 2023 to Seo Seung Jae/Chae Yu Jung. When the Koreans repeated the feat subsequently in the VICTOR China Open final, it appeared they had the measure of the Chinese. But that’s as far as they got against the Chinese in their next six meetings. The last was a 21-12 21-5 destruction in the semifinals of the HSBC BWF World Tour Finals 2023.

It has been a similar story with other pairs who have beaten Zheng/Huang, such as Feng Yan Zhe/Huang Dong Ping or Jiang Zheng Bang/Wei Ya Xin. The world No.1 duo responded to defeat by upping their level.

Huang Ya Qiong explains their approach:

“We lost more matches this year compared to previous years, but I think that’s a good thing. Having problems and then solving them makes us stronger.”

Zheng promised that they would seek to get even better in 2024, for the Olympic gold is the one big crown missing from their achievements.

“I think this year is all about moving forward under pressure,” said Zheng.

This ability to solve problems, within the match or subsequently, is what makes both pairs special.

As Jia Yi Fan puts it:

“We’re getting better and more mature every year, and I’ve come to enjoy myself more this year (2023). I think we’ve grown mentally, including the way we usually get along, I think it’s getting more comfortable. We’re getting to know each other better and ourselves better, and that’s a great feeling.”

“We have maintained good performance and the momentum is going up,” said Jia. “We’re enjoying our status as No.1. Our goal remains the same – to be the top pair in the world.”

With their insatiable hunger for improvement, Zheng/Huang and Chen/Jia are certain to keep their opponents on tenterhooks. As the PETRONAS Malaysia Open 2024 begins, both pairs will look to starting their Olympic quest with a strong result in the season-opener.

Catch Chen Qing Chen/Jia Yi Fan and Zheng Si Wei/Huang Ya Qiong in action at the PETRONAS Malaysia Open 2024. In their opening match, Chen/Jia face Lee Yu Lim/Shin Seung Chan, while Zheng/Huang are up against Lee Chun Hei/Ng Tsz Yau.