Dai Yun is
just one of four Chinese women among badminton's top 10 singles
players, but she is perhaps the most likely to challenge for gold
at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. In fact, the Games will most likely
be the stage for another showdown with Denmark's Camilla Martin.
Dai first showed her potential in 1996 when, at age 18, she reached
the semifinals of the China Open. In 1997, she reached the quarterfinals
of the World Championships, then the semifinals of the All-England
Open. When she made her first elite international final that year,
she lost a tense 4-11, 11-6, 10-12 contest to Martin, establishing
the rivalry. Dai won the Uber Cup in 1998 for her first major victory,
but 1999 was the year she blossomed. She won the Chinese Taipei,
Malaysian and Thailand Opens. May was a particularly memorable month,
with Dai reaching the finals of both the Sudirman Cup and the World
Championships. At the Sudirman Cup, she claimed revenge and her
biggest win yet by defeating Martin 5-11, 11-9, 13-9 in the finals.
A few weeks later, though, in the finals of the World Championships,
Martin won on the final point, 11-6, 6-11, 11-10 ¡ª after Dai had
rallied for seven straight points to tie the game. Since then, the
rivalry has continued with Dai beating Martin in the semifinals
of the 2000 All-England Open.