By Katie Falkingham, Sportsbeat
It’s no secret that Lee Chong Wei is fast approaching the end of his career on court, but with no world title to his name, there will be little doubt in the Malaysian’s mind that the time is nigh to finally end that drought.
At 34, Lee will travel to the Total BWF World Championships in Glasgow as one of the favourites to win gold, having fallen at the final hurdle with silver in 2011, 2013 and 2015.
Currently ranked World No.2, Lee is no stranger to performing, and winning, on British soil, triumphing on three occasions at the YONEX All England Open Championships.
But, along with Olympic gold, a World title still remains the one that got away – and that’s a fact he’ll be keen to amend in just a matter of weeks.
Arguably his greatest challenger comes in the form of current World No.1 Son Wan Ho, who spearheaded his country’s victory at the Total BWF Sudirman Cup earlier this year.
The Korean has never progressed past the quarter-final stage of a World Championships before, and, perhaps playing into Lee’s favour, Son has only rarely come good on the big stage.
Last season, he made three World Superseries finals, but lost all three, yet there’s no denying the 29-year-old has the pedigree to go all the way in Glasgow.
Should he do just that, he will become the first Korean to win the men’s singles title at the World Championships – a potential tumbling of the history books that will no doubt fuel the fire in his belly.
These Championships also look set to be a last for five-time world champion Lin Dan, who, despite a season of mixed results, can never be written off.
Victories at the Swiss and Malaysia Opens, against compatriot Shi Yuqi and Lee respectively, have been his only hurrahs of 2017 to date, and the 33-year-old will be looking to rectify his shock semi-final defeat at the All England upon his return to British shores.
Also in the running is Lin’s compatriot Chen Long, who, as reigning Olympic and back-to-back World champion, will be chasing a hat-trick of titles in Glasgow.
For the World No.5, affectionately known as ‘Little Dan’, it has been a season of mixed success so far, winning the Asia Championships and reaching the final of the Australian Open.
He’s clearly one who relishes playing at the highest level of the game, the courts of Scotland his biggest platform for triumph this year.
But a new era of men’s singles is dawning, with a whole host of young and upcoming shuttlers ready to make their mark on the world stage – no doubt a plethora of future world champions among them.
One such player is Srikanth Kidambi, who has experienced a meteoric rise to the top of the sport in recent years, creating history along the way by becoming the first Indian to win two successive Superseries titles.
Then there is Viktor Axelsen, bronze medallist in Copenhagen three years ago and winner of the same colour at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
The last European player to win men’s singles gold at the World Championships was Axelsen’s fellow countryman Peter Rasmussen, coming 20 years ago in, ironically, Glasgow.
So despite the injury-induced absence of fellow Dane Jan Ø Jorgensen from this year’s line-up, could we be on for a repeat of the events of 1997?
The TOTAL BWF World Championships 2017 will be staged at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena from 21-27 August.
It is being delivered by BADMINTONscotland in partnership with Glasgow Life and Glasgow City Council and with funding support from EventScotland and The National Lottery through UK Sport.
Tickets available at www.glasgow2017.com/tickets