19 May 1975 |
Jinzhou, Liaoning, China
|Height||1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)|
|Weight||64 kg (141 lb; 10.1 st)|
|Current ranking||4 (September 25, 2008)|
Zhang Ning (simplified Chinese: 张宁; traditional Chinese: 張寧; pinyin: Zhāng Níng; born 19 May 1975 in Jinzhou, Liaoning, China) is a female badminton player from the People's Republic of China. She won the Olympic gold medal twice for women's singles in both 2004 and 2008. She has played badminton on the world scene since the mid-1990s and has been particularly successful since 2002 while in her late twenties and early thirties, relatively late for singles at the highest level, and especially for top players in the Chinese system who are developed very early. She is known for her consistency of shot, deception and constant pressure, dictating the pace of rallies and working her opponents in all four corners of the court. She is the only female player to win consecutive Olympic singles gold medals.
Zhang first represented China in Uber Cup (women's world team championship) competition in 1994 and last represented it in 2006. Though she was not always chosen to play in each of the biennial editions of this tournament, the span of her Uber Cup service is the longest of any Chinese player.
Although she had previously won a number of international open titles dating from the mid-1990s, Zhang's breakthrough as a dominant player on the world circuit came in the 2003 IBF World Championships, where she stormed into the final. There, 28-year-old Zhang Ning defeated compatriot Gong Ruina easily 11-6, 11-3.
The following year, Zhang played badminton at the 2004 Summer Olympics for China. In women's singles, she defeated Marina Andrievskaya of Sweden and Kelly Morgan of Great Britain in the first two rounds. In the quarterfinals, Zhang beat Wang Chen of Hong Kong 9-11, 11-6, 11-7 to advance to the semifinals. There, she defeated countrywoman Zhou Mi 11-6, 11-4. Zhang defeated Netherlands's Mia Audina 8-11, 11-6, 11-7 in the final to win the gold medal. It was sweet revenge for the 29-year-old, who had lost to Audina 10 years earlier in the decisive match of the Uber Cup. With her Olympic win, she became one of three singles players in the world to win the World Championship and the Olympic Games (in either order) in successive years, the others being Susi Susanti and Taufik Hidayat.
Zhang also claimed many titles after her breakthrough wins. She bested Xie Xingfang in the 2005 China Open 3-11, 11-4, 11-8, but in the 2005 World Championships final Zhang fell to Xie Xingfang, 8-11, 11-9, 3-11.
In 2006, Zhang reached the finals of the World Championships yet again, but she was still unable to defeat Xingfang. This time, she lost 16-21, 14-21. However, Zhang claimed revenge in the Japan Open, defeating Xingfang 21-11, 16-21, 30-29. This was the 19th time they have met in an international tournament, with the head-to-head tied at 9-9. During this year the well known Dutch documentary filmmaker Roel van Dalen made the documentary film 'Olympic Journey - The Road to Beijing' on the life of Zhang Ning, which was broadcast on television worldwide.
In 2007, Zhang won her fifth Singapore Open title in six times, beating Xingfang 21-18, 19-21, 21-3. In the World Championships, Xingfang was defeated in the third round by Malaysian Wong Mew Choo, making Zhang a favourite for the title. However, she was stopped in the semi-finals by Wang Chen. This was the second time Wang Chen had beaten her in 2007, after the Indonesian Open. Zhang's compatriot Zhu Lin went on to beat Wang in the final 21-8, 21-12. In the Beijing Good Luck Invitational tournament, Zhang reached the semi-finals to face Zhu Lin but pulled out due to injury.
In the Danish Open, she reached the final, but lost 17-21, 14-21 to compatriot Lu Lan due to a thigh injury. Zhang also reached the semi-finals of the French Open, but was upset was local hope Pi Hongyan.
Zhang's 2008 season started with a first round loss in the Malaysian Open. She was seen coaching her younger teammates in the tournament as well. In the Korean Open, she lost to her former compatriot, Zhou Mi, in the quarter-final. Zhou now plays for Hong Kong. In the All England, Zhang and Xie, the top 2 seeds, lost in the first round. However they both bounced back strongly in the Swiss Open to reach the final, for their 22nd international meeting. To be in the final was a relief for Zhang who had failed to get past the quarter finals in three previous tournaments. Still, Xie beat Zhang 21-18, 21-17, bringing their head to head stands to 11:11.
Later, at the Beijing Olympic Games, Zhang progressed to the quarter-final after overcoming South Korean Jun Jae Youn in the third round. She then subdued fifth-seeded Pi Hongyan of France and Indonesia's Maria Kristin Yulianti 21-15, 21-15 to reach the final. There she faced compatriot and world number 1 Xie Xingfang and won in a tough three-setter, 21-12, 10-21, 21-18, to extend her gold medal reign. Zhang became the first badminton player to ever defend an Olympic singles title even though many questioned her ability to do so at the age of 33. She was additionally chosen to represent China as the flag bearer for the 2008 Summer Olympics closing ceremony.
Having previously announced her plans to retire after the 2008 Olympic Games, a retirement ceremony for Zhang and other retiring members of the Chinese national team was held at the 2008 China Open Badminton Championships in Shanghai in November 2008. After her retirement, Zhang Ning immediately began working with the Chinese national team in coaching and developing the up-and-coming women's singles players.
Prior to the results listed in the performance chart below, Zhang had won the French (1994), Swedish (1996), Malaysia (1998), Singapore (2001), and Korea (2002) Opens; the 1998 World Badminton Grand Prix and Copenhagen Masters; and the 2001 Asian Championships. She had also earned a bronze medal at the 2001 IBF World Championships and a second place finish (to compatriot Ye Zhaoying) at the 1998 All-England Championships, the one major world title that she never captured.
|2008||16 August 2008||BEIJING OLYMPIC GAMES 2008||Winner|
|2007||6 May 2007||AVIVA OPEN SINGAPORE 2007||Winner|
|22 Oct 2006||CHINA OPEN||Winner|
|15 Oct 2006||YONEX JAPAN OPEN||Winner|
|24 Sep 2006||WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS||Runner-Up|
|02 Sep 2006||YONEX SUNRISE HONG KONG||Runner-Up|
|23 Jul 2006||Macau Open Championship||Quarter-Finalist|
|25 Jun 2006||CHINESE TAIPEI OPEN||Winner|
|18 Jun 2006||PROTON MALAYSIA OPEN||Winner|
|6 May 2006||UBER CUP||Winner|
|12 Mar 2006||CHINA MASTERS 2006||Quarter-Finalist|
|22 Jan 2006||YONEX ALL ENGLAND OPEN 2006||Runner-Up|
|15 Jan 2006||YONEX GERMAN OPEN 2006||Winner|
|13 Nov 2005||PICC CHINA OPEN 2005||Winner|
|06 Nov 2005||Yonex Sunrise Hong Kong Badminon Championship 2005||Winner|
|04 Sep 2005||CHINA MASTERS 2005||Winner|
|21 Aug 2005||XIV WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS 2005||Finalist|
|10 Jul 2005||PROTON MALAYSIA OPEN 2005||Winner|
|03 Jul 2005||SINGAPORE OPEN 2005||Winner|
|15 May 2005||SUDIRMAN CUP FINAL 2005||Team Event|
|10 Apr 2005||YONEX OPEN JAPAN 2005||Winner|
|13 Mar 2005||YONEX ALL ENGLAND OPEN 2005||Runner-Up|
|05 Mar 2005||YONEX GERMAN OPEN 2005||Runner-Up|
|21 Nov 2004||AVIVA OPEN SINGAPORE 2004||Winner|
|14 Nov 2004||CHINA OPEN 2004||1/4|
|21 Aug 2004||OLYMPIC GAMES 2004||Winner|
|04 Jul 2004||Proton-Eon MALAYSIA OPEN 2004||Winner|
|16 May 2004||UBER CUP FINALS 2004||Team Event|
|11 Apr 2004||YONEX OPEN JAPAN 2004||Semi-Finalist|
|04 Apr 2004||NOONNOPPI KOREA OPEN 2004||Winner|
|14 Mar 2004||YONEX ALL ENGLAND OPEN 2004||Semi-Finalist|
|07 Mar 2004||SWISS OPEN 2004||Semi-Finalist|
|16 Nov 2003||CHINA OPEN 2003||1/4|
|02 Nov 2003||HONG KONG OPEN 2003||Winner|
|05 Oct 2003||YONEX GERMAN OPEN 2003||Winner|
|28 Sep 2003||DENMARK OPEN 2003||Semi-Finalist|
|07 Sep 2003||PROTON EON MALAYSIA OPEN 2003||1/4|
|31 Aug 2003||SANYO INDONESIA OPEN 2003||1/4|
|24 Aug 2003||YONEX-SUNRISE SINGAPORE OPEN 2003||Winner|
|03 Aug 2003||World Championships 2003||Winner|
|06 Apr 2003||Yonex Open Japan 2003||1/4|
|23 Mar 2003||Sudirman Cup 2003||Team Event|
|23 Feb 2003||Swiss Open 2003||Winner|
|16 Feb 2003||Yonex All England Open 2003||Semi-Finalist|
|22 Dec 2002||China Open 2002||Runner-Up|
|17 Nov 2002||JVC Asian Champs 2002||Runner-Up|
|01 Sep 2002||Sanyo Indonesia Open 2002||Runner-Up|
|25 Aug 2002||Yonex-Sunrise Singapore Open 2002||Runner-Up|
|19 May 2002||Uber Cup Finals (CHN) 2002 TF||Team Event|