American twins vie with Canada for Olympic seats

Badminton News: As the qualifying window for the Paris Olympics enters its final month, there is at least one race that will end in photo. This competition will feature Annie Xu / Kerry Xu of the United States and Catherine Choi / Josephine Wu of Canada, who are both fighting for the Pan American representative spot in women's doubles.

The Xu twins currently lead the Race to Paris, but recently ranked 32nd, they are ahead of their Pan American competitors by a slim margin of 172 points. The spot will likely be determined at the 2024 YONEX Individual Pan American Championships in Guatemala next week, where the Canadian duo is the top seed and the American duo is second.

Considering the Xu sisters' performance so far, it was amazing how humble they were. The Xu family's journey, like that of all self-funded athletes, has been an expensive affair, with the twins playing 23 matches last year and 10 matches so far this year, supported by family and friends.

“We both worked in corporate accounting for a year, which allowed us to save some funds,” said Annie Xu.

“Also, sponsors are difficult to find in America and you have to have the right connections. The majority of our competitions are financed by our savings or by the help of our parents, friends and family. We created a GoFundMe and got some money through that. We usually don't have enough savings, so it's our parents who support us. »

During the Olympic qualifying period, they reached the finals of four Challenge/International Series events, won the 2023 Peru Challenge and helped the Americans reach the final of the M&F Pan American Badminton Cup.

With 40,827 points, they constitute the highest ranked Pan American duo, ahead of the Canadian duo Choi/Wu (n°34) and the American duo Francesca Corbett/Allison Lee (n°38) and Paula Lynn Cao Hok/Lauren Lam (n°34). °38). 40).

Although they are relatively new to the World Tour, they have had reasonable success this year, beating Margot Lambert/Anne Tran at the 2024 PETRONAS Malaysia Open and Treesa Jolly/Gayatri Gopichand Pullela at the 2024 YONEX Spain Masters.

They are almost the best. Yuki Fukushima/Sayaka Hirota at the YONEX French Open, with three match points against the world number 8 pair before Japan emerged from their predicament. The YONEX All England were perhaps a precursor to what could happen at the Pan American Championships when they faced Catherine Choi/Josephine Wu in the first round, in a match the Canadians needed to win to keep the Xu sisters in sight.

Although both American men lost the match in three games, their defeat was philosophical.

“It was a tough physical and mental struggle, with the Olympic qualifiers almost over,” Kerry Xu said.

“It's only a month away, the pressure is very high, so learn to deal with it and also try not to let it get to you when you play. This is something we are still trying to work on. Unfortunately, we didn't get the results we hoped for… at least we gave the best of ourselves.

“It didn't feel like the first round, because they're usually semifinals or Pan American finals,” her sister said.

“We arrived nervous, because playing against our main competitors for an Olympic place was quite nerve-wracking for us, and there was a lot of pressure behind it. Whereas in the other first rounds, I just wanted to play the best I could, trying to get to the next level. But we went into this match with the belief that we really wanted to win. Not only for our sake, but also for our families and all those who support us.

With such a slim lead, the sisters tried not to get ahead of themselves. Olympic places are hard won.

“In January, on the Asia tour, we did well; “So far, we are satisfied with our performance,” said Kerry Xu.

“When it comes to excellence, we try not to think about it too much because we don't want to put pressure on ourselves. We are happy to now have a Pan-American continental area; I hope we maintain it.

Article keywords: Annie Xu, Kerry Xu, United States, Paris 2024 Olympic Games

Hector Montgomery

"Prone to fits of apathy. Beer evangelist. Incurable coffeeaholic. Internet expert."

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