EAST ASIAN GAMES 2009 – Unknown Korean deprives Lin Dan of Gold

China’s amazing Lin Dan lost to unknown Korean Choi Ho Jin (pictured) in the final of the East Asian Games individual competition in Hong Kong, together with 3 other top […]

China’s amazing Lin Dan lost to unknown Korean Choi Ho Jin (pictured) in the final of the individual competition in Hong Kong, together with 3 other top seeds.  Surprise strikes for the last day of the badminton event.

By Raphael Sachetat.  Photos: China Foto Press/Badmintonphoto (live)

What a day of surprises, in Hong Kong.  Everyone expected the top seeds to cruise to easy victories, with most of the favourites facing much lower-ranked opponents.  It wasn’t to be so as the long season took its toll on Lin Dan, Zhou Mi, and Ma/Wang from China, who all bowed to their opponents on Sunday

The biggest upset, however, was the one pulled by Choi Ho Jin, quite unknown to the badminton world.  The Korean stunned the world’s best player ever in straight games, 21-19, 21-18.  Lin mentioned that he was tired, yet it doesn’t take anything from this amazing run from the 24-year-old Korean, who only entered the national team this summer, after playing for the military for a couple of years, and doing very well on domestic stage.  Choi is originally from Gimcheon, a new badminton power within South Korea, which has since become the professional home of Lee Dong Soo and Lee Hyun Il.  Choi entered the national team this summer after play-offs held there where he beat some of the best players and hence, getting his ticket for the national training centre.

This upset comes as a trend this year, with former national team players joining their teams again after a long break, and shining on international stage.  Wang Xin, the 25-year-old Liaoning shuttler, had the same story, having stayed away from the elite ranks because of a hip injury.  She got back and, within few weeks of returning to the national training center, won the Philippine Open, and beating some of the finest world shuttlers ever since.  It is much the same story for Thai Open champion Liu Jian, and Chinese Taipei Open finalists Bae Seung Hee from Korea and Cheng Shao Chieh from Chinese Taipei, who had all been forgotten before they made their great 2009 comebacks.

Choi will be looking to walk in these players’ shoes, unless he can keep the Korean tradition running, possibly even daring to dream of taking over from Park Sung Hwan, who was known as Lin Dan’s nemesis with a positive record over Lin for quite some time.

Zhou, Ma/Jin sent packing

Lin’s defeat wasn’t the only surprise in the Queen Elizabeth Stadium.  Zhou Mi, hot favourite to take the title in the women’s singles, was forced to withdraw at the end of the final and let her compatriot Yip Pui Yin take the crown.  It is Yip’s best result for some time, after her amazing run in the Doha Asian Games in 2006 where she had scooped the silver medal, only losing to Wang Chen, who retired this week in Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong shuttlers were helped however by the weak line-up sent by China, with only two youngsters Xia Jingyun and Chen Xiaojia, with Zhou Mi edging Asian Champion Chen in the semi finals in three games.

Former Chinese National Team players Zhang Dan and Zhang Zhibo, now representing Macau, pulled a bad trick on their erstwhile compatriots.  The two Zhangs beat the top seeds from China 22-20, 21-16, leaving Ma Jin on the second step of the podium for the second time on Sunday, as she was also beaten with Zhang Nan in the mixed by compatriots Zhang Yawen and Tao Jiaming.

Unseeded Chinese Taipei pair Hu and Tsai scooped the men’s double’s crown in an all-Taiwan affair against Chen and Lin, also top seeds as were the three other shuttlers and pairs who bowed on Sunday.

The only seeded player to reach gold in Hong Kong was Yip Pui Yin (pictured), giving a signal to the international body that the long season has definitely taken its toll on top players and that this is now giving chances to others.  China will certainly not see this as a pleasing experience as they come home with “only” 3 medals all together, one in the mixed doubles and two in the men’s and women’s team events.

Final Results
Mx: Tao/Zhang (CHN) beat Zhang/Ma (CHN) : 21-15, 21-14
MS: Choi Ho Jin (KOR) beat Lin Dan (CHN) : 21-19, 21-18
WS: Yip Pui Yin (HKG) beat Zhou Mi (HKG) : 15-21, 21-13, 17-10 ret.
WD: Zhang/Zhang (MAC) beat Ma/Wang (CHN) : 22-20, 21-16
MD: Hu/Tsai (TPE) beat Chen/Lin (TPE) : 21-17, 22-20

For complete results from the individual competition of the 2009 East Asian Games, CLICK HERE

Visit CCTV to watch a video of the men’s singles match HERE

Raphaël Sachetat

About Raphaël Sachetat

Raphael is the Chief Editor of Badzine International. He is the founder of the website together with Jean François Chauveau. After many years writing for the BWF and many publications around the world about badminton, he now leads a team of young and dynamic writers for Badzine.