Former world #1 Lee Hyun Il is being considered as an addition to the team for the 2014 Incheon Asian Games this September, according to a report today from Korea’s Yonhap News Agency.
Lee, who at age 34 has already officially retired from international competition no fewer than three times, came out of his most recent retirement last autumn and promptly won the Korea Grand Prix Gold in Jeonju. Yonhap cites a source within the Badminton Korea Association (BKA) as saying that the move is primarily aimed at improving the strength of the Korean side for the men’s team competition. Lee was part of the Korean team that won the controversial final at the 2002 Asian Games in Busan and he also beat Lin Dan in Korea’s ultimately unsuccessful outing versus China in the final in Doha. Korea also settled for silver in Guangzhou in 2010.
However, at last month’s Thomas Cup, the Koreans were unable to replicate their runs to the 2008 and 2012 finals and a major factor was that they were unable to win more than one of the three singles matches in any of their ties.
Lee, who lost the bronze medal matches at both the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games, is currently ranked a lowly #179 in the world. However, he will certainly make great strides towards the top 100 with his win today at the Sri Lanka International Challenge.
Prior to this news from the BKA, Lee’s current comeback has been outside the auspices of the Korean National Badminton Team and he explained in an interview last November that he would only be entering tournaments to which the Association was not sending contingents. Sri Lanka was one such and Lee’s next should be the Canada Open at the end of this month, which will be attended only shuttlers from the Daekyo women’s pro team and the Wonkwang University squad.