Zhang Ning

Zhang Ning (simplified Chinese: 张宁; traditional Chinese: 張寧; pinyin: Zhāng Níng; born 19 May 1975) is a former badminton player from the People's Republic of China. She won the Olympic gold medal twice for women's singles in both 2004 and 2008. She has played badminton on the world scene since the mid-1990s and has been particularly successful since 2002 while in her late twenties and early thirties, relatively late for singles at the highest level, and especially for top players in the Chinese system who are developed very early. She is known for her consistency of shot, deception and constant pressure, dictating the pace of rallies and working her opponents in all four corners of the court. She is the only female player to win consecutive Olympic singles gold medals. She also became World champion in 2003 and has a total of five medals of all colours in the competition.

Zhang Ning
Zhang Ning.jpg
Personal information
Birth name张宁
Country China
Born (1975-05-19) 19 May 1975 (age 45)
Jinzhou, Liaoning, China
Height1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)
Weight64 kg (141 lb; 10.1 st)
Women's singles
Career record385 Win, 97 Loss
Highest ranking1
BWF profile

Zhang first represented China in the Uber Cup (women's world team championship) competition in 1994 and last represented it in 2006. Though she was not always chosen to play in each of the biennial editions of this tournament, the span of her Uber Cup service is the longest of any Chinese player.



Although she had previously won a number of international open titles dating from the mid-1990s, Zhang's breakthrough as a dominant player on the world circuit came in the 2003 IBF World Championships, where she stormed into the final. There, 28-year-old Zhang Ning defeated compatriot Gong Ruina easily 11-6, 11-3.


The following year, Zhang played badminton at the 2004 Summer Olympics for China. In women's singles, she defeated Marina Andrievskaya of Sweden and Kelly Morgan of Great Britain in the first two rounds. In the quarterfinals, Zhang beat Wang Chen of Hong Kong 9-11, 11-6, 11-7 to advance to the semifinals. There, she defeated countrywoman Zhou Mi 11-6, 11-4. Zhang defeated Netherlands's Mia Audina 8-11, 11-6, 11-7 in the final to win the gold medal. It was sweet revenge for the 29-year-old, who had lost to Audina 10 years earlier in the decisive match of the Uber Cup. With her Olympic win, she became one of three singles players in the world to win the World Championship and the Olympic Games (in either order) in successive years, the others being Susi Susanti and Taufik Hidayat.


Zhang also claimed many titles after her breakthrough wins. She bested Xie Xingfang in the 2005 China Open 3-11, 11-4, 11-8, but in the 2005 World Championships final Zhang fell to Xie Xingfang, 8-11, 11-9, 3-11.


In 2006, Zhang reached the finals of the World Championships yet again, but she was still unable to defeat Xingfang. This time, she lost 16-21, 14-21. However, Zhang claimed revenge in the Japan Open, defeating Xingfang 21-11, 16-21, 30-29. This was the 19th time they had met in an international tournament, with the head-to-head tied at 9-9.

During this year the well known Dutch documentary filmmaker Roel van Dalen made the documentary film Olympic Journey - The Road to Beijing on the life of Zhang Ning, which was broadcast on television worldwide.


In 2007, Zhang won her fifth Singapore Open title in six times, beating Xingfang 21-18, 19-21, 21-3. In the World Championships, Xingfang was defeated in the third round by Malaysian Wong Mew Choo, making Zhang a favourite for the title. However, she was stopped in the semi-finals by Wang Chen. This was the second time Wang Chen had beaten her in 2007, after the Indonesian Open. Zhang's compatriot Zhu Lin went on to beat Wang in the final 21-8, 21-12. In the Beijing Good Luck Invitational tournament, Zhang reached the semi-finals to face Zhu Lin but pulled out due to injury.

In the Danish Open, she reached the final, but lost 17-21, 14-21 to compatriot Lu Lan due to a thigh injury. Zhang also reached the semi-finals of the French Open, but was upset by local hope Pi Hongyan.

In the China Open, Zhang lost in straight sets to Malaysia's Wong Mew Choo in the semi-finals. Zhang cited injury and fatigue as the main reasons for her loss.


Zhang's 2008 season started with a first round loss in the Malaysian Open. She was seen coaching her younger teammates in the tournament as well. In the Korean Open, she lost to her former compatriot, Zhou Mi, in the quarter-final. Zhou now plays for Hong Kong. In the All England, Zhang and Xie, the top 2 seeds, lost in the first round. However they both bounced back strongly in the Swiss Open to reach the final, for their 22nd international meeting. To be in the final was a relief for Zhang, who had failed to get past the quarter-finals in three previous tournaments. Still, Xie beat Zhang 21-18, 21-17, bringing their head to head stands to 11:11.

Later, at the Beijing Olympic Games, Zhang progressed to the quarter-final after overcoming South Korean Jun Jae Youn in the third round. She then subdued fifth-seeded Pi Hongyan of France and Indonesia's Maria Kristin Yulianti 21-15, 21-15 to reach the final. There she faced compatriot and world number 1 Xie Xingfang and won in a tough three-setter, 21-12, 10-21, 21-18, to extend her gold medal reign. Zhang became the first badminton player to ever defend an Olympic singles title even though many questioned her ability to do so at the age of 33. She was additionally chosen to represent China as the flag bearer for the 2008 Summer Olympics closing ceremony.


Having previously announced her plans to retire after the 2008 Olympic Games, a retirement ceremony for Zhang and other retiring members of the Chinese national team was held at the 2008 China Open Badminton Championships in Shanghai in November 2008.[1][2] She was in tears receiving an award during the ceremony to mark her retirement with five other teammates from the Chinese national badminton team on the sidelines of the China Open badminton event in Shanghai, November 23, 2008.[3] After her retirement, Zhang Ning immediately began working with the Chinese national team in coaching and developing the up-and-coming women's singles players. In 2018 however she was replaced by Luo Yigang as the coach of China's women's badminton team following the below par performance of team at the Uber Cup.[4]


Olympic GamesEdit

Women's singles

Year Venue Opponent Score Result
2004 Goudi Olympic Hall, Athens, Greece   Mia Audina 8–11, 11–6, 11–7   Gold
2008 Beijing University of Technology Gymnasium, Beijing, China   Xie Xingfang 21–12, 10–21, 21–18   Gold

World ChampionshipsEdit

Women's singles

Year Venue Opponent Score Result
2001 Palacio de Deportes de San Pablo, Seville, Spain   Zhou Mi 5–11, 9–11   Bronze
2003 National Indoor Arena, Birmingham, England   Gong Ruina 11–6, 11–3   Gold
2005 Arrowhead Pond, Anaheim, United States   Xie Xingfang 8–11, 11–9, 3–11   Silver
2006 Palacio de Deportes de la Comunidad, Madrid, Spain   Xie Xingfang 16–21, 14–21   Silver
2007 Putra Indoor Stadium, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia   Wang Chen 11–21, 15–21   Bronze

World CupEdit

Women's singles

Year Venue Opponent Score Result
2005 Olympic Park, Yiyang, China   Xie Xingfang 19–21, 16–21   Silver
2006 Olympic Park, Yiyang, China   Wang Yihan 19–21, 18–21   Bronze

Asian ChampionshipsEdit

Women's singles

Year Venue Opponent Score Result
1999 Kuala Lumpur Badminton Stadium, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia   Ye Zhaoying 8–11, 5–11   Silver
2001 PhilSports Arena, Manila, Philippines   Wang Chen 11–1, 11–3   Gold
2002 Nimibutr Stadium, Bangkok, Thailand   Zhou Mi 11–6, 3–11, 8–11   Silver

Asian CupEdit

Women's singles

Year Venue Opponent Score Result
1996 Olympic Gymnasium No. 2, Seoul, South Korea   Zeng Yaqiong 5–11, 11–2, 11–4   Gold

East Asian GamesEdit

Women's singles

Year Venue Opponent Score Result
1993 Shanghai, China   Shen Lianfeng 8–11, 8–11   Bronze

Women's doubles

Year Venue Partner Opponent Score Result
1993 Shanghai, China   Qin Yiyuan   Kim Shin-young
  Shon Hye-joo
12–15, 11–15   Silver

BWF SuperseriesEdit

The BWF Superseries, launched on 14 December 2006 and implemented in 2007, is a series of elite badminton tournaments sanctioned by the Badminton World Federation (BWF). BWF Superseries has two levels, the Superseries and Superseries Premier. A season of Superseries features twelve tournaments around the world, introduced in 2011, with successful players invited to the BWF Superseries Finals held at the year's end.

Women's singles

Year Tournament Opponent Score Result
2007 Swiss Open   Lu Lan 21–16, 21–18   Winner
2007 Singapore Open   Xie Xingfang 21–18, 19–21, 21–3   Winner
2007 China Masters   Xie Xingfang 11–21, 21–8, 21–23   Runner-up
2007 Denmark Open   Lu Lan 17–21, 14–21   Runner-up
2008 Swiss Open   Xie Xingfang 18–21, 17–21   Runner-up
  Superseries tournament
  Superseries Premier tournament
  Superseries Finals tournament

IBF World Grand PrixEdit

The World Badminton Grand Prix sanctioned by International Badminton Federation (IBF) from 1983 to 2006.

Women's singles

Year Tournament Opponent Score Result
1994 French Open   Liu Yuhong 7–11, 11–7, 11–7   Winner
1994 Brunei Open   Hu Ning 11–3, 6–11, 11–6   Winner
1996 Swedish Open   Ra Kyung-min 6–11, 11–2, 11–4   Winner
1996 Malaysia Open   Wang Chen 11–7, 11–8   Winner
1996 China Open   Wang Chen 11–6, 11–6   Winner
1998 All England Open   Ye Zhaoying 5–11, 8–11   Runner-up
1998 Malaysia Open   Dai Yun 11–1, 11–3   Winner
2001 Singapore Open   Dai Yun 7–1, 4–7, 7–2   Winner
2002 Korea Open   Gong Ruina 7–0, 5–7, 7–1, 7–2   Winner
2002 Singapore Open   Zhou Mi 6–11, 3–11   Runner-up
2002 Indonesia Open   Gong Ruina 6–11, 7–11   Runner-up
2002 China Open   Gong Ruina 5–11, 8–11   Runner-up
2003 Swiss Open   Wang Chen Walkover   Winner
2003 Singapore Open   Zhou Mi 11–0, 11–8   Winner
2003 German Open   Camilla Martin 11–7, 11–3   Winner
2003 Hong Kong Open   Gong Ruina 11–5, 11–9   Winner
2004 Korea Open   Jun Jae-youn 11–6, 11–5   Winner
2004 Malaysia Open   Zhou Mi 9–11, 11–7, 11–8   Winner
2004 Singapore Open   Zhou Mi 11–8, 11–1   Winner
2005 German Open   Xie Xingfang 5–11, 4–11   Runner-up
2005 All England Open   Xie Xingfang 3–11, 9–11   Runner-up
2005 Japan Open   Xie Xingfang 11–7, 11–8   Winner
2005 Singapore Open   Zhou Mi 11–5, 11–7   Winner
2005 Malaysia Open   Zhu Lin 11–6, 11–2   Winner
2005 China Masters   Zhou Mi 11–3, 5–11, 11–3   Winner
2005 Hong Kong Open   Xie Xingfang 11–4, 1–11, 11–6   Winner
2005 China Open   Xie Xingfang 3–11, 11–4, 11–8   Winner
2006 German Open   Lu Lan 11–8, 11–3   Winner
2006 All England Open   Xie Xingfang 6–11, 11–4, 2–11   Runner-up
2006 Chinese Taipei Open   Xie Xingfang 21–15, 21–15   Winner
2006 Malaysia Open   Tracey Hallam 21–12, 21–13   Winner
2006 Hong Kong Open   Xie Xingfang Walkover   Runner-up
2006 Japan Open   Xie Xingfang 21–11, 16–21, 30–29   Winner

Women's doubles

Year Tournament Partner Opponent Score Result
1993 Dutch Open   Joanne Goode   Finarsih
  Lili Tampi
9–15, 3–15   Runner-up

Record against selected opponentsEdit

Record against year-end Finals finalists, World Championships semi-finalists, and Olympic quarter-finalists.


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on February 16, 2009. Retrieved December 22, 2008.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ http://www.china.org.cn/sports/news/2008-11/25/content_16820808_2.htm
  4. ^ https://www.scmp.com/sport/china/article/2150548/china-badminton-coach-zhang-ning-fired-overhaul-begins-world

External linksEdit