LONDON: Defending Olympic champion Yu Yang of China has apparently quit badminton after she was one of eight players disqualified from women’s doubles for trying to lose at the London Games.
A comment on a verified account for Yu on the Tencent microblogging service late Wednesday read: “This is my last game. Farewell Badminton World Federation. Farewell my dear badminton.”
Yu’s retirement could not be immediately confirmed with Chinese badminton officials. In China, the lives of top athletes are closely controlled by sports officials, including decisions on retirement.
Yu and Wang Xiaoli, the world champions and Olympic gold-medal favorities, were one of four doubles teams which played poorly on purpose to secure a more favorable position in the quarterfinals lineup.
Along with two teams from South Korea and another from Indonesia, it appeared to be the first mass disqualification in Olympic history.
None of the players were made available for interviews.
Yu went on state television in China on Wednesday to apologize “to all the badminton fans and friends over yesterday’s game, because we did not comply with the Olympic spirit, and did not deliver a match with our true level to the audience, the fans and the friends.”
In a statement released to Xinhua, the Chinese Olympic delegation criticized its players’ actions.
“The behavior by Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli on court violated the Olympics ideal and the spirit of fair play. The Chinese delegation feels distressed over this matter,” the delegation said.
Xinhua also reported Chinese badminton coach Li Yongbo apologized and accepted blame for the scandal.
“As the head coach, I owe the fans and the Chinese an apology,” Li said. “Chinese players failed to demonstrate their fighting spirit of the national team. It’s me to blame.”
Yu won the Olympic women’s doubles in Beijing with Du Jing, and a bronze medal in mixed doubles.
After teaming with Wang Xiaoli in late 2010, their aggressiveness revolutionized women’s doubles. Since becoming a pair, they had lost only four times, and once because of injury, and an Olympic gold medal was expected to confirm them as the greatest women’s pair in history.
Last year Yu and Wang were named world women players of the year after sweeping the world and Asian championships and every Super Series title, including the final.