Eom to get back into mixed after 2 national golds

Korean doubles ace Eom Hye Won has picked up two golds at the National Sports Festival and is ready to get back to being a mixed doubles specialist when the […]

Korean doubles ace Eom Hye Won has picked up two golds at the Sports Festival and is ready to get back to being a mixed doubles specialist when the Superseries reconvenes in Europe in a week’s time.

Story and photos: Don Hearn (live from Incheon)

Eom Hye Won was flawless in her contribution to the Korea National University of Physical Education’s acquisition of the team gold in the women’s university division at the Korean National Sports Festival in Incheon.  Although slated to play third singles in each tie, the strength of her team made that unnecessary.  In fact, in the final, team-mate Sung Ji Hyun (pictured above with Eom) added a doubles point at the expense of doubles specialist and hometown favourite Kim So Young of Incheon University.

In just over a week, she will get back to business, resuming her mixed doubles partnership with Shin Baek Cheol (pictured below with domestic and international men’s doubles partner Ko Sung Hyun) after the two were split for most of the year, then reunited by qualification points to have a good run to the World Championship semi-finals.

Eom will also be playing women’s doubles with Shin Seung Chan, the world’s newest member of the top ten club, but only temporarily, says Korean National Badminton Team Head Coach Lee Deuk Choon.

“Shin Seung Chan’s partner Lee So Hee had surgery [on her knee] about ten days ago,” explained Lee.  “She is now in rehabilitation training.  We would like to have her back competing as soon as possible but she needs time to heal so it’s possible she won’t be back for the rest of the year.

“Both Shin Seung Chan and Eom Hye Won will be playing mixed doubles anyway in Europe so we want to keep them sharp in women’s doubles as well.  We see Eom Hye Won as having more potential in mixed for the time being so she this women’s doubles partnership is not permanent.  We’re still testing out pairings though, and Eom could get a new doubles partner but nothing has been decided on that for now.

Eom’s former and again current mixed partner Shin Baek Cheol was lucky enough to win two titles of his own, in men’s doubles and the men’s team but he was not lucky enough to avoid taking on singles responsibilities.  In the final, he and Ko Sung Hyun won their doubles match easily but the two evenly matched teams came down to the fifth match and Shin had to play for North Gyeongsang Province against Gyeonggi’s Ko Joon Hyung, winner of a national singles championship in 2011.  Shin took the first game and staged a stellar comeback from 13-19 down in the second all the way to match point before letting it slip away and having to fight through a third game as well.

Shin had the best courtside help he could ask for in the form of his coach, former Korea Open men’s singles champion Kim Hak Kyoon (pictured above).  In fact, he was saved from a possibly tougher deciding match in the semi-final but his team-mate Eom Ji Kwan, who pulled off a brilliant upset of Chinese Taipei Open champion Son Wan Ho.  Ko A Ra (pictured below right) was unable to do the same for her South Jeolla team, as she went down to former world #14 Bae Seung Hee (pictured below left), who sealed the second straight women’s team title for the Korean Ginseng Company and Daegu.

It was perhaps not coincidental that KGC won the women’s team event, as they were the only team with both a national team singles and doubles specialist, respectively Bae Yeon Ju and Jung Kyung Eun (pictured above playing together), in addition to the mighty veteran Bae Seung Hee.

The event is intended to be a local dry run for the 2014 Asian Games but scheduling was tight due to this week’s East Asian Games in Tianjin and the badminton event had to be held much earlier than the rest of the Games to avoid a conflict with the Denmark Open Superseries Premier, missing which would have meant hefty fines for Korea’s numerous top ten players.  As a result, the badminton event could not be played in the new badminton facility built for next autumn’s 17th Asiad.

Meanwhile, two youths from Ulsan, Kim Hyo Min and Jung Jae Wook (pictured below) picked up team golds just days before travelling to Tianjin to lead a very young team against some of East Asia’s best athletes.

Don Hearn

About Don Hearn

Don Hearn is an Editor and Correspondent who hails from a badminton-loving town in rural Canada. He joined the Badzine team in 2006 to provide coverage of the Korean badminton scene and is committed to helping Badzine to promote badminton to the place it deserves as a global sport. Contact him at: don @ badzine.net