Yoo can be proud of eight straight finals

Yoo Yeon Seong, on the eve of his 8th straight international men’s doubles final, looks ahead to the next title, to next month, and to the next Olympics. Story and […]

Yoo Yeon Seong, on the eve of his 8th straight international men’s doubles final, looks ahead to the next title, to next month, and to the next Olympics.

Story and photos by Don Hearn, live in Jeonju

Yoo Yeon Seong is playing for the second straight year in the final of a Grand Prix event in what is essentially his hometown.  Yoo was born in Cheong-eup, about 40km to the southwest, but spent most of his school years in Jeonju so he says it feels like his hometown.

But what has been making headlines this year it isn’t a winning streak in small provincial city where they didn’t even have electronic scoreboards before the semi-final round.  Instead, it has been the 3 Superseries titles that he and Lee Yong Dae won in 3 consecutive weeks early this past summer, followed by runner-up finishes for the pair at the World Championships, Asian Games, and Denmark Open.

In fact, if you count his Badminton Asia Championship title in April with Shin Baek Cheol, Yoo’s appearance in the Korea Grand Prix final on Sunday will mark his 8th straight international men’s doubles final.  If you throw in his last two domestic tournament wins, it makes ten!

“Although this is a home event for me in a way, I wouldn’t say that makes a big difference,” said Yoo Yeon Seong afterward.  “I go into any tournament aiming to win and so I am not thinking this one is a strong one or in this one I can take it slow.  I am very happy to be in tomorrow’s final but I will prepare well and play hard to try to win it as I do with every final.”

Yoo offered his own perspective of his three near misses since becoming world #1 in August: “Of course we go into any tournament hoping to win it but at first, it didn’t seem like we were under pressure to necessarily win the title each time.  But I think especially with those three Superseries titles, people’s expectations of us seemed to go up and it seemed as though people were counting on us to win.

“It’s great that people consider you as the favourite and it makes us want to win all the more but it’s still sport and you have to be on your game and you can always find someone who has figured out a way to beat you.

“I’d say we did pretty well to reach those three finals.  Those were big tournaments and I don’t think there’s any reason to be losing confidence.  Sometimes you are the winner and sometimes you are the runner-up.  Actually, in six tournaments, we won three times and were runners-up three times, I think that’s doing pretty well.

“Now we’re in another final.  Rather than worry about whether we are being as successful as we should, I would like to concentrate on perfecting the game we’re playing on court.

Asked about his next objective, Yoo replied, “My next objective is the tournament we’re at now.  I want to win this final and the title.

“Come next year, we have the World Championships and then the Olympics to be concerned with.  The Olympic qualifying period will start in May and we have been trying some things out in order to perfect our game so we will continue testing things and hope it produces results once Olympic points are on the line.

“Next month, we’ll compete in Dubai for the first time.  I’m looking forward to that.  I’m curious to see what the country itself looks like.  I’ve heard it’s an amazing place.

“Of course, we’ll be there to play a tournament so we won’t be able to just sit back and enjoy it but I’m still looking forward to it.

“I haven’t actually participated in the Superseries Finals that many times.  Things have kept popping up, like military service, or other decisions by the national team.  In any case, it’s a title I’ve never won before so I’ll work hard to win it this time.

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