A flawless performance in our rivals’ hometown of Hangzhou
“I heard that Hangzhou, China, is the hometown of Chen Yufei (who will be competing for the gold medal), but if I play the way I’ve been preparing and enjoy myself, I think I’ll have a good enough result at the Asian Games. I’ll play like a world No. 1.”
His confidence was evident in every word he spoke. Ahead of the Hangzhou Asian Games in September, “Badminton Empress” Ahn Se-young (21-Samsung Life Insurance)’s entry form was filled with the majesty of a top ranked player.
Ahn is making badminton history in South Korea. In March, she won the women’s singles title at the prestigious Jeon Young Open, becoming the first South Korean to do so in 27 years, since Hwang Soo-hyun in 1996. Since then, she has added to her trophy cabinet with a string of victories over her “nemesis” rivals. On March 31, she was ranked No. 1 in the world. It was also the first time in 27 years that South Korea was ranked No. 1 in the women’s singles since Hwang Su-hyun in September 1996.
Ahn’s world ranking, which started at No. 1335 in February 2018, has risen steeply over the past five years. This season, she finished on the podium in all 11 events she competed in. She has won seven titles, been runner-up three times, and finished third once. The Badminton World Federation (BWF) praised Ahn’s run, using the word “impeccable” to describe it.
At a press conference held at the Jincheon National Athletes’ Village in Chungcheongbuk-do on Saturday, Ahn said, “It’s true that I feel pressure with the title of world No. 1, but I’ve decided to acknowledge and accept the pressure,” adding, “I’m curious and excited to see what it’s like to play as the No. 1.”
Ahn is a master of transformation. She has evolved by constantly changing her playing style. From her debut until last year, she was categorized as a ‘defensive player’. She used her physical strength and reliable defense to force her opponents into errors.
Now that he is ranked No. 1 in the world, he plays a different game. She adjusts her intensity to the flow of the game and then hits hard at the right time to overwhelm her opponent. So far this year, she has won 4-2, 3-2, and 5-1 against Chen Yufei, Akane Yamaguchi (Japan-2), and Tai Tzu-ying (Chinese Taipei-4), who form the “Big 4” in women’s singles.
“There was a big change when we played the Korea Open and Japan Open back-to-back last month,” said Kim Hak-gyun, head coach of the Korean National Badminton Team. “Until the Korea Open, we were following our opponents’ play, but from the Japan Open onwards, (Ahn) Se-young took control of the flow. She won the tournament by playing a comfortable game as if she was wearing clothes that fit her body.”
Ahn leads the prize money list for both men and women this season ($428,480 – about $572 million). “I think I deserve this kind of reward for all the hard work I’ve done,” she said, “I don’t have time to spend the money, so I put it in my bank account. I hope to buy a gift (for myself) someday.”
Badminton’s other disciplines are also expected to perform well at the Hangzhou Asian Games. South Korea is second behind China in the team rankings. In women’s doubles, Lee So-hee and Baek Hana are ranked second and Kim So-young and Gong Hee-yong are third. The mixed doubles team of Seo Seung-jae and Chae Yoo-jung is ranked fifth, and the men’s doubles team of Kang Min-hyuk and Seo Seung-jae is ranked sixth. At the Hangzhou Asian Games, Korea will be looking to win medals in all seven events (men’s and women’s team events, men’s and women’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles, and mixed doubles).
Badminton medal prospects at the Hangzhou Asian Games
“We easily beat the world No. 1 pair of Chen Qingcheng and Zhao Zifan (China) in the final of the Japan Open, which gave us a lot of confidence,” said Kim So-young, who will partner with Gong Hee-yong for the women’s doubles gold.먹튀검증
The badminton team will travel to Copenhagen, Denmark, on Nov. 18 for the World Championships, which begin on Nov. 21. The team will then compete at the China Open in Changzhou, China, on May 5 for a final warm-up.