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Source: Badminton World Federation | Badminton Photo (archives)
The Badminton World Federation has in the last weekend released an official Junior World Ranking table
, which has demonstrated the equal strength of the Asians and Europeans at the top junior level competition of the sport.
In the top 10 rankings of the 5 disciplines of the sport, the Europeans have scooped 24 spots, with the Asians edging out with 26 spots.
The mixed doubles see a clear European domination, while the other 4 disciplines see a rather even distribution between the two continents.
Unlike the senior stage where the Asians dominate the top tier of the ranking tables, the junior ranking table also reveals the development strength in countries with less presence on the senior stage such as Turkey and Slovenia.
Boys singles top shot, Denmark's Viktor Axelsen is already a household name in the Scandinavian country, but the 2010 BWF Promising Player of the Year lost his 2011 World Junior crown to Malaysia's Zulfadli Zulkiffli (pictured right).
Despite the loss, Axelsen has had a remarkable 2011 claiming top senior players 2004 Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat and now-retired Chinese star Bao Chunlai to his name.
While Zulfadli, who became the first Malaysian to win a World Junior boys singles title, was also named the 2011 BWF Promising Player of the Year. This proves to be an encouraging sign for Malaysia as the Southeast Asian nation searches for a successor for reigning World Number 1, Lee Chong Wei.The strength of the girls singles ranking table can be felt with the top three girls - Ratchanok Inthanon, P. V Sindhu, and Carolina Marin (pictured left) - already creating waves on the senior stage.
Ratchanok and Carolina are also in good standing to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. The Thai sensation picked up her first Grand Prix Gold title in India last December and has beaten Chinese ace Wang Shixian on her home soil in November. While Carolina has also beaten top players like Yao Jie and Eriko Hirose at the 2011 World Championships in London.
India's talented Sindhu caught public attention after picking up 4 senior titles (International Challenge level) in 2011.
Three-time world junior champion, Ratchanok, trains in a private club in Bangkok under the wings of former Thai national men's doubles player Patapol Ngernsrisuk.
While Carolina Marin has come through a unique talent development program in Spain that has proven to be highly successful in unearthing especially female talents for the sport.
"Perhaps it has to do with our culture [where the boys play football] that badminton in Spain is finding a lot of talented female players through our talent program," said Spain's coach Fernando Rivas. "Besides Carolina, there are many other Spanish girls who are already making their mark in Europe."
"We hope for Carolina to compete at the Olympic Games and break into the top 5 in the world eventually", concluded Rivas on their aspirations for the bubbly Spanish shuttler.
Carolina added: "I really hope to play in the 2012 London Olympic Games, but that is not my goal, but to get some experience. The 2016 Olympic Games is where I'm hoping to pick up a medal."
The BWF Junior Ranking Table will be updated weekly.