KOREA GPG 2013 QF – Golden juniors on a roll

Korea’s heroines from the recent World Junior Badminton Championships – Kim Hyo Min, Chae Yoo Jung, and Kim Ji Won – have all followed up that success by reaching the […]


Korea’s heroines from the recent World Junior Badminton Championships – Kim Hyo Min, Chae Yoo Jung, and Kim Ji Won – have all followed up that success by reaching the semi-finals of their home Gold.

Story and photos: Don Hearn (live in Jeonju)

In the past few weeks, Korea’s junior badminton players have already given their country plenty to cheer about.  Women’s singles specialist Kim Hyo Min, and the doubles pairing of Chae Yoo Jung / Kim Ji Won (pictured above), in particular, played a key role in the Korean victory in the Suhandinata Cup mixed team event, taking points in the finals in two categories that Korea has not been able to count on so heavily in team competitions in recent years.

Chae and Kim, of course, followed up the team success with the girls’ singles title in the individual competition, beating out China’s two top teams in the process.  At the Victor Korea Grand Prix Gold in Jeonju, they had to fight hard to face down Singapore’s Fu Mingtian and Vanessa Neo, who came from behind to snatch the first game before watching the Koreans hold on in the next two.

“Winning the World Junior title was huge for us,” said Kim Ji Won.  “It was actually our first tournament victory since we first started playing together back in 2012, when we won the Surabaya Cup.”

“Last year, we lost in the very first round so that was so hard for us,” added Chae Yoo Jung.  “Then we finally came through with the title it was so amazing.  It feels great to add to a run of titles for Korea.”

Not only were the Koreans’ opponents coached by another Korean winner of multiple  Olympic medals – two-time men’s doubles silver medallist Yoo Yong Sung was in the Singapore corner while Gil Young Ah was in charge of the Korea girls – but one of them, Fu Mingtian, was herself a World Junior Champion.  Fu collaborated with Yao Lei in 2008 to break the mainland China stranglehold on the World Junior girls’ doubles title.

“Our opponent won that title?  We didn’t know that,” said Kim Ji Won.  “It is a good experience, then.  We haven’t thought as far as who we will play tomorrow, either.

“We still have a few tournaments coming up this year,” said Chae.  “We’re playing the Korean Junior next week here and after that, we are playing the Grand Prix events in Macau and Vietnam.”

Also making her way into the semi-finals in Jeonju was Kim Hyo Min (pictured).  Although she was stopped in the World Juniors by eventual winner Akane Yamaguchi in the quarter-finals, the Korean team was heavily reliant on Kim, who propelled them into the final with her win over Asian Junior Champion and Russian Grand Prix winner Aya Ohori.

Also moving into the final four was He Bingjiao (pictured below), the girl who had stopped Hyo Min in the Asian Juniors last summer.  He will try her hand against Superseries leader Bae Yeon Ju.

“I can feel the experience gap when I play players like Yamaguchi, who’ve been doing well in the senior events, but it’s good experience,” said Kim.  “Next year, I won’t be a junior any more but I’m going to keep going with the singles.  I don’t know what tournaments I’ll get to play in but this year, I’m already entered in the Macau Open.”

Kim Hyo Min’s quarter-final victory came at the expense of compatriot Jung Na Ra but she had already eliminated last year’s runner-up Aprilia Yuswandari of Indonesia in the previous round.

“One thing I have to work on is my flexibility,” explained Kim Hyo Min.  “My limbs are a little too rigid and I have to work on that.  Power is another area where I need to improve.  But of course, I’m hoping that all my skills will improve overall.”

“Tomorrow I play against Ji Hyun so I’m going to play hard and do my best.  I think it will be a good experience for me.”

Click here for complete quarter-final results

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