World's best get in gear for Yonex All England Champs
Badminton's biggest names will descend on the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham next week for the Yonex All England Championships, badminton's oldest and most prestigious World Grand Prix Event. Everyone who's anyone has entered this year's tournament in a final bid for those all-important world ranking points which will enable the athletes to compete in the Sydney Olympics later this year. Not only that, but thanks to a new sponsorship deal with car giants Proton Cars (UK), the lucky singles champions could drive home in a brand new Proton Satria GTi - the first time a car has been offered as a prize at a World Grand Prix event. JWorld number one Peter Gade Christensen of Denmark is the hot favourite in the Men's Singles. As 1999 All England Champion, he'll be looking to make it two in a row, and a third consecutive World Grand Prix win in 2000. Compatriot and reigning Olympic Champion Poul-Eric Hoyer-Larsen is the second seed, after the withdrawal of World Champion Sun Jun, due to recurring injuries. Although part of the team, Sun also missed China's Thomas Cup ties in New Delhi last month. Malaysian number one and Commonwealth champion Wong Choong Hann is the third seed, followed by 19-year-old Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia in fourth. World number one in Women's Singles, China's Ye Zhaoying as top seed will go all out for a fourth consecutive All England title, equaling the record for consecutive Championship titles held by M Lucas (1907-10) and USA's Judy Hashman (1961-64). Reigning Men's Doubles champions, Candra Wijaya and Tony Gunawan of Indonesia, are top seeds over Korea's top pair Lee Dong Soo & Yoo Yong Sung with World Champions, and Korean number two pair Ha Tae Kwon & Kim Dong Moon in the third seeded position. Will anyone put a stop to the winning ways of China's Women's Doubles legends, Ge Fei & Gu Jun? As top seeds, they look almost certain to add this title to their never-ending string of wins, which includes 2 World Championships, 6 World Grand Prix Finals titles and the '96 Olympic Gold. But, second seeds Ra Kyung Min & Chung Jae Hee have been creeping up on them in the rankings thanks to a number of Grand Prix wins, so there will certainly be a fight for the title in Birmingham. In the Mixed event, Korea's Kim Dong Moon and Ra Kyung Min are the top seeds, with Liu Yong and Ge Fei in second. Simon Archer and Jo Goode of fly the home nation's flag, seeded eighth in this event. Don't miss out on the action from the Yonex All England Championships - the "Wimbledon" of the badminton world. Catch up on all the latest news here at World Badminton Online!