All roads lead to Baku
Date: 6/19/2015 5:55 PM
Published by : Manuel Røsler

The inaugural European Games is already underway in Baku, Azerbaijan after a glittering opening ceremony which featured Lady Gaga as the headline act on Friday 12th June in the Olympic Stadium. In badminton terms the European Games gets into full swing this coming week with 32 nationalities represented across all five disciplines in the newly renovated Baku Sports Hall situated in the city cluster looking out to the Caspian Sea.

The badminton competition starts on Monday 22nd June and offers up a golden chance for some of Europe’s elite players to create some personal and badminton history as medallists in the inaugural European Games.

European & Olympic medallists to grace the stage in Men’s Doubles

The men’s doubles event will offer up the mouth-watering prospect of a gold medal match between London Olympic silver medallist, Mathias Boe & Carsten Mogensen (pictured) and reigning European Champions Vladimir Ivanov and Ivan Sozonov. The Danes have lived much of their recent badminton life inside the world’s top 3 and the Russians will look to prove that their gold medal in Kazan last year was no fluke as they build towards the World Championships.

The Danes biggest group test will probably come from Irish pair Sam & Joshua Magee while the Russians will have to be at their best to make sure Mittelheisser & Kersaudy of France fail to cause a group upset.

For men’s doubles group draw click HERE

Opportunity for outsider to come from the pack in women’s singles

Across the European circuit over the past years the women’s singles event has been one of the most fiercely contested disciplines of the five. The European Games in Baku will be no different as any one of a dozen athletes are in with a shout of climbing the top step of the podium.

Bulgaria’s Linda Zetchiri is top seed but will have to be on her toes from the outset with Laura Sarosi (HUN) and the very dangerous Marija Ulitina (UKR) in her group. Line Kjærsfeldt, Denmark’s big hope, is overdue a major medal after coming up short in individual European events in the past and will be supported by Anna Thea Madsen, the current European silver medallist, as Denmark push for gold.

Bulgaria also have the veteran Petya Nedelcheva in the field while group F is the group of death with Irish number one, Chloe Magee as the seeded athlete. Keeping Magee honest will be Estonia’s Kati Tolmoff a potential medallist in her own right and one of the most consistent performers on the circuit this season Belgium’s Lianne Tan. Don’t be surprised if either Tan or Tolmoff feature come the business end of the tournament.

Jeanine Cicognini (ITA), Natalia Perminova (RUS) and Neslihan Yigit (TUR) round off the seeded athletes and all are well capable of making the podium once their ‘A’ games is packed as luggage leaving for Baku.

For women’s singles group draw click HERE

Golden chance for Evan’s to make Irish badminton history

Ireland’s Scott Evans travels to Baku on the back of his best season to date after winning the Brazil GP and runner up at the Bitburger Open GPG in 2014. A series of excellent results propelled the Irish number 1 inside the world’s top 25 for the first time in his career and Evan’s will be the man to beat in Baku. Evans will most likely battle for group 1 honours against Yuhan Tan (BEL) in a repeat of the singles match played at this year’s European mixed team finals in Leuven between Belgium and Ireland.

With the forced withdrawal of both Eric Pang (NED) due to injury the threat to Evans has been somewhat diluted. However the eclectic talent of Spain’s Pablo Abian looms ominously while Denmark’s Emil Holst will carry the Danish threat in Baku.

For men’s singles group draw click HERE

Stoeva’s clear favourites to lift women’s doubles title

Bulgaria’s world number 14 pair Gabriela & Stefani Stoeva are the overwhelming favourites to lift the women’s doubles event at the European Games. Their closest challengers on paper should be world number 24 pairing Kosetskaya and Bolotova but all eyes will be on Danish pair Maria Helsbol and Lena Grebak to see can they bring the fight to the Bulgarians.
Helsbol continues her comeback from injury and the Danes should offer some resistance to the Stoeva’s power. French pair Audrey Fontaine and Lorraine Baumann will look to fly under the radar and sneak a medal for France while Bayrak and Yigit represent Turkey’s best chance of a badminton medal in Baku.

For women’s doubles group draw click HERE

Will Irish eye’s smile on Magee siblings?

Just as Scott Evans harbours realistic medal chances in the men’s singles for Ireland so do Sam & Chloe Magee in the mixed doubles event. The Irish duo are top seeds for Baku and should progress from group 1 with relative ease. Czech pair Bitman & Basova will push the Irish for the top spot in the group but with a premium set on finishing first the Irish will leave no stone unturned to get the best possible quarter final draw.

The Russians have sent the vastly experienced pair of Durkin & Vislova to Baku and with Vislova being sparsely used at the recent European Club Championships in France she is sure to arrive in Baku fresh.

Perhaps the biggest threat to an historic Irish gold will come from Danish pair Nøhr & Thygesen who have been extremely consistent on the European circuit this season. As fate would have it the Danes would the Irish Open in the Magee’s absence back in December and we wonder is that an omen for the week coming. If you are Irish you would certainly hope not.

Like the Danes, Mittelheisser & Fontaine have been extremely consistent on the European circuit this past season. The French have had a host of quarter, semi and final appearances to their name but worryingly have lacked that illusive win. Maybe Baku will be the opportunity for the French to re write that statistic and should they do it they will be worthy winners.

For mixed doubles group draw click HERE

Badminton Europe will be live from Baku with updates via our social media channels Twitter & Facebook and website platforms throughout the entire badminton competition.

For all information and scoring from the European Games in Baku go to the official website Keep an eye out for live stream from selected events via the video tab on the home page and check with your local broadcaster for TV schedule.

Check out Badminton Europe's brand-new Instagram account.

Article by Mark Phelan for Badminton Europe. Photo by BadmintonPhoto.

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