“China is the toughest to beat,” said Saina Nehwal, India’s ace badminton player, just before a match with Lin Wang during the 2009 Badminton World Championship.   

While Nehwal lost the match to the Chinese player, her apprehension foreshadowed what was to be a complete sweep of the championships by China, whose players went on to win all the major titles—the men’s single, the women’s single, and the men’s and women’s doubles. Nehwal was perhaps echoing the sentiment of many Indian sportspersons who have had to pit their skills against China’s formidable strength as a sporting nation.

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