London, England – The top-seeded Chinese pairs in men's, women's and mixed doubles all won Saturday as badminton group play got started at the London Olympics.
All five categories -- men's and women's singles and doubles, and mixed doubles -- began competition at Wembley Arena.
In every doubles category, China has the top-seeded and reigning world champion team. Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang won in women's doubles, Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng claimed a victory in their men's doubles opener, while Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei took their first match in the mixed category.
The Chinese are dominant in the sport, sweeping the gold medals at last year's world championships. They also won three golds at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but have never won an Olympic gold in men's doubles. Cai and Fu were silver medallists in '08.
In the men's singles draw, none of the top 10 seeds played Saturday. Indonesian Taufik Hidayat, the No. 11 seed, did compete and earned a win against Czech Peter Koukal. Hidayat won gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics in the event.
Other seeded players to earn victories in men's singles were Dane Jan O Jorgensen (No. 12), South Korea's Son Wan Ho (13) and German Marc Zwiebler (14).
Indonesia's Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir, seeded third, notched a two- game victory over India's Diju V and Jwala Gutta in mixed doubles. Gutta is one of the players affected by a drastic, late change to the badminton schedule. An oversight by officials in regard to the competition format forced the change, which resulted in an apology from the sport's world federation.
Gutta had to play twice and lost both matches. She was also defeated in a women's doubles bout.
In women's singles, third-seeded Li Xuerui of China, sixth-seeded Juliane Schenk of Germany, and eighth-seeded Korean Sung Ji Hyun were victors. Briton Susan Egelstaff also won her opening match.
Group play continues Sunday and runs through Tuesday.