For Immediate Release
May 13, 2008
USA Badminton Athletes Receive Invitations from the Badminton World Federation to Participate in the 2008 Olympic Games in Five Disciplines
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – USA Badminton has received the official invitations from the Badminton World Federation to participate in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China with athletes qualified in each of the five disciplines. This marks a historical milestone for USA Badminton as the first time the United States has qualified for an Olympic Games in all five badminton disciplines.
Leading the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team for badminton will be returning 2004 U.S. Olympian Howard Bach (San Francisco, Calif./Orange, Calif.) who has qualified in both men’s doubles with Khan “Bob” Malaythong (Rockville, Md./Orange, Calif.) and mixed doubles with Eva Lee (Orange, Calif.). Lee will be very busy during the 2008 Olympic Games as she has qualified to compete in all three events she was eligible for, women’s singles, mixed doubles with Bach and women’s doubles with Mesinee “May” Mangkalakiri (Garden Grove, Calif.). Raju Rai (Atlanta, Ga./Anaheim, Calif.) rounds out the team having qualified in men’s singles.
“This is a historic day for USA Badminton to qualify for the Olympic Games in all five badminton disciplines,” said Dan Cloppas, USA Badminton Executive Director. “We are extremely proud of the five athletes that have accomplished this remarkable achievement. We congratulate them on their success and thank them for their tremendous dedication, sacrifice and hard work that has gotten them to this point. USA Badminton and the United States will be very well represented by these five individuals on the Olympic stage.”
Badminton was first recognized as a full medal sport at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain. At the 1992 Olympic Games, the United States competed in each of the five disciplines despite not qualifying in each discipline as Olympic badminton rules at the time allowed for countries to enter every event with qualified athletes, regardless of the discipline they qualified in.
Bach, who will be returning to his second consecutive Olympic Games, is becoming synonymous with making history for USA Badminton. In August of 2005 at the World Badminton Championships in Anaheim, Calif., Bach teamed with Tony Gunawan, the 2000 Olympic gold medalist for Indonesia now living in Orange, Calif., in men’s doubles to capture the first ever World Badminton Championship title for the United States. Bach will look to recapture that magic this August in Beijing with Malaythong.
Lee will have three opportunities at Olympic glory competing in three events (women’s singles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles). This is not new for Lee as she captured the elusive “triple crown” title by winning gold in each of the three disciplines at the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
One unique aspect of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team for Badminton is that they all train at the same club, the Orange County Badminton Club in Orange, Calif., which is owned and operated by Don Chew and his family. All American, three of the five athletes also have international connections with Bach being born in Vietnam, Malaythong in Laos and Lee in Hong Kong. Bach’s grandfather was born Guangzhou, China.
The following athletes will be officially nominated by USA Badminton to the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team for Badminton, subject to approval by the United States Olympic Committee Board of Directors.
Howard Bach (San Francisco, Calif./Orange, Calif.) – Men’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles
Khan “Bob” Malaythong (Rockville, Md./Orange, Calif.) – Men’s Doubles
Raju Rai (Atlanta, Ga./Anaheim, Calif.) – Men’s Singles
Eva Lee (Orange, Calif.) – Women’s Singles, Women’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles
Mesinee “May” Mangkalakiri (Garden Grove, Calif.) – Women’s Doubles
Head Coach: Zi Min Cai (Orange, Calif.)
For more information, please contact Cecil Bleiker, NGB Media Services Director for USA Badminton at 719-866-4608. This press release is also available on the USOC’s media specific website at http://www.usocpressbox.org/.