The Badminton World Federation (BWF) on Thursday announced the nominees for the BWF Players of the Year Awards in eight categories for the COVID-19 interrupted season.
Tokyo Olympics gold medallist Viktor Axelsen, his Dane compatriot Anders Antonsen and Wang Yi Lyu of China and Yuta Watanabe of Japan are the four shuttlers nominated by the BWF Awards Commission for the Male Player of the Year Award.
In the women’s singles category, China’s Tokyo gold medallist Chen Yufei is the favourite contender for the Female Player of the Year Award. Carolina Marin, Olympic silver medallist Tai Tzu Ying and Akane Yamaguchi are three others who have been nominated for the coveted annual award.
In the wake of the pandemic, BWF has decided to extend the eligibility period to cover the 2020 and 2021 seasons, starting from 1 November 2019 and ending on 31 October 2021.
This means the award ceremony could be highly influenced by shuttlers’ performances in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympic Games.
In the meantime, BWF introduced two new categories – Pair of the Year and Para-Badminton Pair of the Year – for the extended season.
Indonesian history makers in the reckoning
In the Pair of the Year Award category, the Tokyo Olympics gold medal-winning Indonesian pair of Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu is the most notable entry. They scripted history at Tokyo’s Musashino Forest Sport Plaza, becoming the first women’s doubles pair from their nation to clinch gold at the Olympics.
Pramod Bhagat India’s hope
India’s Tokyo Paralympics gold medal-winning player Pramod Bhagat is the strongest candidate for the Male Para-Badminton Player of the Year Award. Bhagat has also been nominated for the Para-Badminton Pair of the Year Award along with Manoj Sarkar.
Notably, the BWF Awards Commission acknowledged the extraordinary journey of Guatemala’s Kevin Cordon across four Olympic Games (2008, 2012, 2016 and 2020) and his stunning performances at the Tokyo 2020, where he became the first Central American badminton player to play in the Olympics semifinals.
World No. 44 Cordon lost to eventual champion Viktor Axelsen in the semifinal and Anthony Sinisuka Ginting of Indonesia in the bronze medal playoff.
The winners will be announced during BWF World Tour’s Bali Leg, starting November 16 with the Indonesia Masters which will be followed by Indonesia Open, starting November 23.
China has the most entries in the eight categories, with nine players nominated for the awards.