When Tai Tzu Ying decided to skip the 2017 BWF World Championship to participate in the World Unversity Games in her country, many had raised eye brows. While that was an extreme case, quite a few top medal contenders will be missing from the 2019 edition of the competition in Basel, due to recent injuries or because they don’t want to push their luck as they recover from injuries with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics just a year away.
India’s doubles stars Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty were the latest to pull out of the championship that begins in Switzerland from Monday as they are nursing a few niggles. The pair ranked 12 in the world at the moment where expected to impress at the marquee event, after their stunning win at the Thailand Open where they defeated the reigning and former world champions on their way to the title two weeks ago,. They were considered India’s best bet for a medal in the doubles categories.
Carolina Marin is the biggest name that will be missed in Basel, as she will be unable to defend her title. Apart from the names listed below, Lee Chong Wei is a big name that will not be associated with the 25th edition of the championships as the Malaysian legend announced his retirement earlier this year.
Here is a look at the other missing stars from this edition of the World Championships:
Viktor Axelsen (Denmark)
The former world champion has been out of action since May due to asthama attacks and had also been nursing a disk protrusion in the lower back and hasn’t recovered completely to be able to participate at the Worlds.
The 25-year-old Dane, who was touted by none other than Lee Chong Wei as the biggest challenger for reigning champion Kento Momota, has been troubled with injuries and health issues for over a year now and would want to get over all of them before he starts his preparation for Tokyo Olympics.
Axelsen tried his best to recover well in time for the World Championship but finally decided to withdraw on July 31.
Carolina Marin (Spain)
The three-time women’s singles world champion surprised everyone when the Spanish Badminton Association accepted the invite for this edition of the World Championship as she had suffered an ACL tear during the Indonesia Masters final in January earlier this year and it was too early for her to return to action.
She eventually decided to withdraw two weeks before the tournament as her primary focus is to retain the Olympic gold medal she won in Rio.
The Spaniard has now said that she will return to action in September but having let go of a chance to defend her world title, the 26-year-old isn’t likely to rush her return till she is sure to be in the best physical shape.
Shi Yuqi (China)
The 23-year-old Chinese, who had lost to Momota in the last edition’s final, had packed off the Japanese in straight games in the 2018 BWF World Tour Finals on home turf to prove that he has the ability to upset the current best player in the world.
The world No 3 was building himself towards the World Championships when a freak injury at the Indonesia Open Super 1000 in July this year put paid to his chances of challenging for a title in Basel. Playing against Denmark’s Anders Antonsen, Shi twisted his left ankle while going for a tap at the net and immediately called for medical attention. The injury immediately appeared to be a serious one as the ankle was swollen and Shi limping off the court with concern evident on Antonsen’s face. He has since been out of action and it is not clear when he will return to competition.
Son Wan Ho (Korea)
The former World No 1, who had been Korea’s primary flag bearer in men’s singles for the last few years and has played a major role in their medal winning runs in team championships, may not just be out of the World Championship but even the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The 31-year-old had to be stretchered out during Korea’s domestic Spring Team championship against Lee Hyun Il in March this year. The heel and ankle injury, which he had been complaining for some time, turned out to be a ruptured Achilles Tendon and he had to undergo surgery that will be followed by a lengthy rehab.
It would be interesting to see if and when Son returns to action, he could do enough for him to qualify for Tokyo.
Tontowi Ahmad (Indonesia)
The 32-year-old Indonesian dominated the world mixed doubles scene with veteran Liliyana Natsir as the pair won the 2016 Rio Olympics gold and two World Championship golds.
But since Natsir retired in January 2019, he has teamed up with 20-year-old Winny Oktavina Kandow and though they have been steadily climbing the world ranking ladder they did not do enough to qualify for this edition of the World Championships in Basel.
The pair is currently ranked 21st in the world and will be hoping to breach the top-10 and be a medal prospect in Japan next year.