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China’s Zheng, Huang make history as most decorated pair at Indonesia Masters

Not even a pounding headache could deter the relentless duo of Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong. Despite battling a recent bout of fever, these Chinese badminton titans have once again reclaimed their position at the pinnacle of the sport.

With an awe-inspiring display of deftness and collaboration, they emerged victorious in the mixed doubles event at the Indonesia Masters on Sunday. Although their opponents, Hiroki Midorikawa and Natsu Saito of Japan, put up a valiant fight in the closing stages, Zheng and Huang’s overall dominance proved insurmountable.

This remarkable triumph not only secured their fifth title at the tournament but also etched their names as the most decorated players in its illustrious history.

“I’m at a loss for words. While we’ve had numerous victories, I had no idea we had become the most decorated,” beamed Zheng, visibly overwhelmed by their record-breaking achievement.

Zheng Siwei (R) and Huang Yaqiong (L) of China pose during a medal ceremony following their mixed doubles final match at Indonesia Masters at Istora Stadium in Jakarta, Indonesia, January 28, 2024. /CFP

Zheng Siwei (R) and Huang Yaqiong (L) of China pose during a medal ceremony following their mixed doubles final match at Indonesia Masters at Istora Stadium in Jakarta, Indonesia, January 28, 2024. /CFP

“This is truly a moment of joy for us. This place holds great significance in our hearts. We have consistently achieved positive results here,” he added. “The unwavering support from the fans has been incredible and I believe they bring us luck.”

“Playing in this arena brings us immense pleasure. The fans are undoubtedly one of the main reasons we are motivated to return, even when we were unwell last week.”

Zheng and Huang’s health took a hit during their participation in the Malaysia Open earlier this month, leading them to make the difficult decision of skipping the India Open in order to prioritize their recovery.

“We are still in the process of recuperating,” said Huang. “These past few days, we’ve been focused on getting plenty of rest, eating well and doing everything we can to fully recover as soon as possible. We may be operating at around 80 percent of our usual capacity, but we poured our heart and soul into today’s victory.”

China's Zheng Siwei (R) and Huang Yaqiong (L) during their mixed doubles final match at Indonesia Masters at Istora Stadium in Jakarta, Indonesia, January 28, 2024. /CFP

China’s Zheng Siwei (R) and Huang Yaqiong (L) during their mixed doubles final match at Indonesia Masters at Istora Stadium in Jakarta, Indonesia, January 28, 2024. /CFP

This marked the duo’s first title of the year. Throughout 2023, they have competed in a staggering 72 matches, coming out on top in 63 of them. Their exceptional performance has earned them an impressive tally of seven World Tour titles, solidifying their position as the world’s No. 1 ranked pair.

Despite their phenomenal win rate and seemingly unstoppable momentum, Zheng and Huang understand the arduous journey and the immense effort required to clinch victory in every single match.

“We encounter both challenges and pressures at every single tournament, and it’s essential for us to keep pushing forward amid those pressures,” observed Zheng. “Our struggles extend beyond the competition with our opponents; we also contend with the weight of expectations and the demands of the game. Each time we step onto the court, our opponents bring their A-game, leaving no stone unturned.”

“With the constant pressure of matches and the pursuit of points, our nerves remain on edge, and there’s no room for complacency. Thankfully, we have developed the ability to convert that pressure into motivation, which has fueled our growth and progress along this journey.”

China's Zheng Siwei (R) and Huang Yaqiong (L) celebrate on the podium after their mixed doubles final match at Indonesia Masters at Istora Stadium in Jakarta, Indonesia, January 28, 2024. /CFP

China’s Zheng Siwei (R) and Huang Yaqiong (L) celebrate on the podium after their mixed doubles final match at Indonesia Masters at Istora Stadium in Jakarta, Indonesia, January 28, 2024. /CFP

When quizzed about their secret behind their consecutive victories, Huang said, “Our focus extends beyond mere outcomes; we also value the journey itself. We have had our fair share of subpar performances and defeats, but we view losses as opportunities for growth. They serve as valuable lessons and reminders to constantly push ourselves and emerge even stronger in the future.”

Looking ahead to the new season, it is undeniable that their greatest ambition lies in gracing the podium at the prestigious Paris Olympics. Zheng Siwei eloquently expressed the duo’s collective aspirations, stating, “Our foremost hope is to maintain our health throughout the year and give our all to pursue our dreams in Paris.”