Korean badminton resurgence swings from Hangzhou to Paris

Korean badminton is on the wings of a resurgence. The 2023 World Mixed Team Badminton Championships (Sudirman Cup), which concluded on Nov. 21, was another reminder of this.

Korea Badminton, who were looking to win their first title in six years, finished as runners-up to China. But their performance was more than a runner-up finish. Women’s singles world No. 2 Ahn Se-young upset No. 1 Akane Yamaguchi (Japan) and No. 3 Tai Tzu-ying (Chinese Taipei) in straight sets. The men’s doubles team of Kim Won Ho and Na Sung Seung proved that their success at the Asian Mixed Team Championships in February, where they defeated World No. 1 Pajar Alfian and Muhammad Rian Ardianto (Indonesia), was no fluke, as they also swept aside World No. 2 Aaron Chia and Soe Wee Ik (Malaysia). The mixed doubles and women’s doubles also confirmed their international competitiveness.안전놀이터

The national team has been on an upward trajectory since Kim Hak-gyun took over as head coach last November. This year, the team has won 10 gold, 14 silver and 12 bronze medals in 13 major international tournaments (excluding the Korea-Japan Games). In 11 events with 10 or more players, they reached the finals. A highlight was the Jeon Young Open in March. She won gold in the women’s singles (Ahn Se-young), gold and silver in the women’s doubles (Kim So-young and Gong Hee-yong), silver in the women’s doubles (Baek Hana and Lee So-hee), and silver and bronze in the mixed doubles (Seo Seung-jae and Chae Yu-jung).

It is believed that Kim, a longtime national team coach and former junior national team commander, has strengthened communication and built trust between coaches and players since taking over, and has been working hard to improve basic physical fitness at the Jincheon Athletes’ Village in between international competitions. The team also tried to discover new doubles combinations and introduced a “new weapon” (Kim Won-ho and Na Sung-seung), who showed off their world-class skills upon their debut.

With this trend, Korean badminton is raising expectations for the Hangzhou Asian Games in September and the Paris Olympics next year. Once a shuttlecock powerhouse in the 1990s and mid-2000s, South Korean badminton suffered the humiliation of not winning a medal at the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games and hasn’t won a gold medal on the Olympic stage since Beijing 2008.

“We still have a lot of work to do, but in Hangzhou we aim to win medals evenly across all disciplines,” Kim said, adding, “We will carry the momentum into Paris and definitely win Olympic gold 16 years after Beijing.”

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