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September 23, 2017

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Tai Tzu-ying's world No. 1 ranking and her shoes

By the time this editorial goes to press, Taiwan badminton champion Tai Tzu-ying (戴資穎) will have been officially named the world No. 1 female badminton player.

The rare achievement was accomplished after the 22-year-old player clinched the women's singles title at the Hong Kong Open Badminton Championships on Sunday, catapulting her to the world No. 1 spot.

Defeating Indian player Pusarla V. Sindhu, who ranks world No. 9, 21:15, 21:17, on Sunday evening, Tai brought home her second Hong Kong Open title since 2014. It also made her the first Taiwanese athlete ever to achieve world No. 1 status in the sport.

Following the historic win, Tai was greeted with a warm reception at Kaohsiung International Airport on Monday, where she was met by her father, fans and Kaohsiung officials.

As usual, one Taiwanese official after another has joined the celebrations to congratulate the latest "Pride of Taiwan." Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu immediately presented Tai with a check for NT$200,000 as a reward.

The good news also made the front page of practically all of Taiwan's major newspapers, which almost allowed us to forgot that the last time Tai was thrust into the media spotlight involved a fight over shoes that led to her premature exit at the Rio Olympics.

Originally a medal hopeful at the Rio Games, Tai ended her trip at a singles quarterfinal on Aug. 16 after losing to Sindhu.

We later learned that one reason for her unexpectedly short trip to Brazil was because she was under extreme pressure after reportedly being threatened with punishment by Taiwan's badminton association after she wore shoes provided by a non-official sponsor.

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