How South Korea’s badminton turnaround from no medals to Ahn Se-young was made possible

After 40 years of ‘no medals’, South Korea reclaims seven medals, including crowning a badminton queen. Korean badminton made a spectacular comeback at the Asian Games after a five-year absence.

Korea Badminton finished the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games with two golds (women’s singles and women’s team), two silvers (men’s doubles and women’s doubles) and three bronzes (women’s doubles, mixed doubles and men’s team). Excluding men’s singles, the team won medals in six events.

It was the second-best result since the 2002 Busan Games, when the team won nine medals, including four golds. Ahn Se-young (Samsung Life) won the women’s team and individual singles titles, while Choi Sol-gyu (Yonex) and Kim Won-ho (Samsung Life) and Lee So-hee (Incheon International Airport) and Baek Ha-na (MG Saemaul Bank) added silver medals in the men’s and women’s doubles.

Doubles standout Seo Seung-jae (Samsung Life) also shared two bronze medals with Kang Min-hyuk (Samsung Life) in men’s and Chae Yoo-jung (Incheon International Airport) in mixed doubles. Kim So-young (Incheon International Airport) and Gong Hee-yong (Jeonbuk Bank) of “Kim Kong Jo” also won bronze, while Lee Yoon-gyu (Gimcheon City Hall) was a surprise bronze medalist in the men’s team event.

In fact, Korean badminton went downhill after Busan. After going ‘no gold’ at the 2006 Doha Games, Korea’s badminton team won just one gold medal at the 2010 Guangzhou and 2014 Incheon Games.

Then, at the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Games, the sport suffered a no-medal, no-gold performance. It was the first such disaster in 40 years since the 1978 Bangkok Games.

It was blamed on a rushed generation change after the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. At the time, veterans such as 2008 Beijing mixed doubles gold medalist Lee Yong-dae (Yonex) were dropped from the team, leaving a void of seniors who could pass on their knowledge to the younger players.

As a result, the inexperienced youngsters were less competitive in international competitions, leading to their worst performance ever. Ahn Se-young also tasted the pain of first-round elimination in her first appearance.

But that has changed since the team was reorganized under Kim Hak-gyun last year. Ahn Se-young’s physical defense combined with her offensive and game management skills has made her the team’s strongest player, while Lee So-hee and Baek Ha-na have risen to No. 2 in the world within a year of joining the team. Seo Seung-jae became more competitive at the World Championships, winning gold in men’s doubles with Kang Min-hyuk and mixed doubles with Chae Yoo-jung, and the results showed in Hangzhou.

Kim’s strong charisma and analytical skills shone through. Jang Jae-geun, the head of the national athletes’ village, was quoted as saying, “Coach Kim is very strict,” adding that “the athletes would run 20 laps around the 400-meter track at dawn.”

At the pre-Asian Games media day, newlywed Kim So-young said, “I need a weekend to breathe. I want to come back refreshed.” The athletes trained gruelingly almost every day in the athletes’ village. “When we talked about going out, I looked at her schedule and it was full until November,” Kim said of newlywed coach Sung Ji-hyun, “and I bowed my head in apology for not being able to take her out, even though we’ve been here for the longest time in years.”

The full support of the Korea Badminton Association also helped. Kim requested special training sessions with past Asian Games medalists such as Son Wan-ho and Kim Ki-jung, and the federation allocated a separate budget to make it happen.

Kim also opened his wallet to ensure the athletes’ nutrition at the Asian Games. “I told Chairman Kim Taek-kyu to airlift food from China in case there were any problems with the local ingredients,” Kim said, “and he told me to prepare as much as I wanted.”

In response, the team airlifted nearly 10 million won worth of foodstuffs to Hangzhou, including 4 million won for meat alone. Jang Jae-geun, the head of the athletes’ village, said, “Coach Kim and the national team coaching staff grilled meat on an electric grill every night at the athletes’ village to feed the athletes.” “They cooked a variety of dishes, including beef bulgogi and pork belly, with all kinds of seasonings,” he said.

The Sports Council also helped. “The badminton team trains really hard, so we couldn’t help but support them,” Zhang said. “We donated frozen food, including meat, and even put a refrigerator in the Hangzhou Athletes’ Village for storage.”

Kim Taek-kyu, the president of the association, and other officials from the local government have been cheering the athletes on in the face of China’s one-sided support at every game. Kim, along with Chungnam Badminton Association President Park Byung-woon, Jeonbuk President Shim Yong-hyun, Choi Byung-joo, chairman of the association’s Competition Promotion Committee, vice president Kim Hyang-rim, executive director Kim Jong-woong, and secretary-general Han Woo-gu, gave a stern warning: “Don’t return home if you don’t have a clear throat.” “I was more energized by the Korean crowd when I scored than the Chinese crowd,” Ahn said.메이저놀이터

In the end, these forces converged to produce a performance that signaled the resurgence of Korean badminton. “I can’t speak because I’m cheering so hard,” Kim said in a hoarse voice on the phone on the 9th, but he was happy that “not only Ahn Se-young, but almost all the players won medals.” “I was hoping for three gold medals, but two is perfect,” he said, emphasizing that he would continue to support the national team fully in the future.

“The men’s team also won an unexpected medal, not to mention Ahn Se-young and the women’s team,” Kim said, adding that the women’s team was very happy to see the men’s performance. “In women’s doubles, you win or lose with them (China’s world No. 1 pair Chen Qingcheng and Zhao Zifan),” he said, encouraging them to “win the team event and lose the individual event.”

“It’s been a long time since I’ve been home for eight days, and now I’m going to go down to Hwasun, Jeollanam-do, where the National Championships badminton will be held as a preliminary event, to check on the players,” Kim emphasized. The hard-working coaching staff and players, the generous support of the federation, and the resurgence of Korean badminton.

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