All England Open: Where the dream starts

2013-03-11 01:06:36 GMT2013-03-11 09:06:36(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

BIRMINGHAM, March 10 (Xinhua) -- Before the All England Open, if Liu Xiaolong and Qiu Zihan walked in the street, few people could recognize them.

In fact, their photos were missing on the official website of All England Open, and many Chinese media were not sure about the correct character in Qiu's first name.

But in men's doubles final Sunday afternoon, when they beat the fourth seeded Japanese pair Hiroyuki Endo and Kenichi Hayakawa overwhelmingly, the world was amazed to see two fledgling shuttlers rising perhaps from here.

This result was unexpected even to them. "We have prepared for the worst, but the victory came easier than I thought," Qiu told Xinhua.

Liu, 25, was from east China's Fujian Province, the hometown of badminton star Lin Dan, while the 22-year-old Qiu was from Shandong. The only title they won was at the Thailand Open last year.

Coming to Birmingham, they aimed just at the top eight. But the walkout and defeat of three other Chinese pairs made them realize their responsibility.

"We had to fight all out in each match," Qiu said.

He recalled their biggest obstacle on the way to podium was the second round, when they fought world's No. 1 seeds, Danish Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen with a long match that lasted for an hour. After they upset the opponents with a rare 27-25 at the decider, some foreign journalists were asking who these "giant killers" were.

"We were greatly encouraged by that success," Qiu recalled. "We knew that we should be confident to win the title."

Then they were faced with eighth seeded Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan from Indonesia, and concluded the match with three sets.

"Each match was a tough battle, but we took it easy and earned every point to stand here today," he said.

Acknowledging that the title from All England Open their biggest glory so far, Liu said, "it is a good start for us."

The annual All England Open Badminton Championships is world's oldest and most prestigious badminton tournament, where many famous Chinese players like Lin Dan and Cai Yun/Fu Haifeng rose to stardom.

Liu and Qiu had their idols: Cai and Fu. They dreamed to claim more titles like them. Then Birmingham is where their dream starts.

Talking about their advantage, Liu said, "we are young and fast."

But they also remained cool-headed. After all they just won a match, and it will soon become the past. "The road ahead is long, and we need to walk step by step steadily," he beamed.

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