As the world’s most prestigious badminton tournament, the YONEX All England attracts players from all corners of the planet, all itching to see their names inscribed on the coveted silverware.
Never mind the Olympic Games or the World Championships, from a very young age, winning the YONEX All England crown is the stuff of dreams – the ultimate goal and a lifetime ambition.
Celebrating its 107th anniversary, the 2017 tournament saw that dream come true for five shuttlers from across the planet, with five different nations represented atop the podium at Birmingham’s Barclaycard Arena.
For four-time men’s singles champion Lee Chong Wei, seven years have passed since he first saw his childhood aspiration come to fruition, going on to add further YONEX All England titles in 2011, 2014 and 2017.
But that’s not to say each and every occasion hasn’t been as special as the very first, with Lee already setting his sights on victory number five.
“All England is my favourite tournament and I will 100 per cent be back next year,” said Lee, quashing rumours that he would soon announce his retirement from the sport.
“I hope that I can win next year, and become a five-time All England champion.”
While Lee was the only 2017 victor to have lifted the YONEX All England trophy aloft before, this year’s tournament marked maiden titles for champions in other events.
For women’s doubles winners Chang Ye Na and Lee So Hee, their triumph over Danes Kamilla Rytter Juhl and Christinna Pedersen in the final left a beam permanently adorning their faces after striking another ambition from their bucket list.
“All players dream of winning at the YONEX All England Championships,” said Chang.
“We have dreamed of this moment since we were very young.
“The dream has come true and we are so happy. We can’t believe it!”
Similar celebrations ensued as Indonesian favourites Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo eased to victory over Li Jinhui and Liu Yuchen in the men’s doubles final, winning only their second BWF Superseries Premier title.
And having seen their childhood dreams become reality, the only way is up for the new world number ones.
“It’s such a valuable win for us, it has been our childhood dreams to win this tournament,” said Sukamuljo.
“It has really motivated us and given us a massive amount of confidence.”