China looks to repeat title sweep at worlds

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China aims to become the first country to successfully defend all five titles at the world championships, starting today at the 2012 London Olympics venue.

China swept the men's and women's singles and doubles in Paris last year, along with the mixed doubles. It also wants to be the first country to win all five titles in a single Olympics next year.

If the Chinese do win all five at London 2012, they will emulate what their table tennis team achieved at the Beijing Games in 2008.

Both the worlds and Olympic badminton events take place at Wembley Arena.

Much depends on China's Olympic champion Lin Dan at the week-long worlds where the men's singles is the only event in which China does not have the top seed. The favorite is Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei, who beat Lin in March at the All-England Open final in Birmingham, England.

However, the 27-year-old Lin is the only player ever to have won three world men's singles titles and is regarded by many as the greatest badminton player ever. With the likelihood of retirement after the Olympics, Lin is looking to go out on a high.

"Lee Chong Wei is the clear favorite," said Peter Gade, a former top-ranked Dane who himself remains in contention at age 34. "He has thrashed opponents in finals ... But if Lin Dan is at his best he is as big a favorite."

Other contenders include Taufik Hidayat, the former world champion from Indonesia, and defending world champion Chen Jin of China.

China is even stronger in the women's singles, with Dane Tine Baun looking the only threat. Baun won the All-England Open in 2008 and 2010, and is seeded fifth.

The favorite is Wang Shixian, though she lost to Baun in Singapore in June.

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