Yoo Yeon Seong – No rest for the wedded

Men’s doubles world #1 spoke to Badzine earlier this month about some of the changes in his life both on an off the badminton court and on what lies ahead […]

Men’s doubles world #1 spoke to Badzine earlier this month about some of the changes in his life both on an off the badminton court and on what lies ahead for this newlywed on a quest for Olympic gold.

Story and photos by Don Hearn

It’s been a big twelve months for Yoo Yeon Seong.  After winning his second Asian Championship in April 2014, he went on to reach his second World Championship final, take both a silver and a gold at the Asian Games, win the Superseries Finals, and picked up four other titles that helped him reach the world #1 spot for the first time in his career.

And that is just as a player.  As a person, he has also seen some big changes.  If completing his compulsory military service shortly before the Asian Games wasn’t enough, he tied the knot with his fiancée in early February, not long before his 2015 badminton season began in earnest.

Yoo spoke to Badzine at a domestic event earlier this month, where his near-perfect performance was almost enough to help his Suwon City Hall team into the semi-finals.

Badzine: Have you noticed any change at all in your approach to badminton since you became a married man?  Congratulations on the wedding, by the way.

Yoo Yeon Seong: Thanks.  There hasn’t really been a major change since the wedding.  We got married just a month before the All England so there wasn’t time to go on a honeymoon.  We’ll have time for that soon.

I’m still living at the national training centre so even my daily routine hasn’t changed all that much.  There certainly is no change in my commitment to playing or to my desire to win titles.  Perhaps if we were to have a child, there might be, but for now, I’m still just as focussed on my badminton career.

Badzine: I’m sure your early exit from the All England was a disappointment.  Do you have the feeling that 2016 will be your last chance to win that prestigious tournament?

Yoo: No, I don’t think of next year as being my last chance to win the All England.  As long as I’m still able and still motivated and still wanted by the team, I’d like to keep playing, so I don’t have any plans for when my career will end.

It is disappointing to lose so early at the All England.  We trained hard for it.  Still, I try to think of it as just another tournament.  There really are so many titles that I haven’t won yet and that I really hope to win someday.

Badzine: What are some of the others?

Yoo: Well, winning the Olympics is everyone’s dream, of course.  The World Championship is also a big title that every player wants to win.  There are many Superseries titles I’ve never won, too.  In particular, I’ve never won at home, the Korea Open, so that is high on the list.

Badzine: It seems that with your wedding taking place on the same weekend as the Korea-Japan Challenge in Jeju-do, most of your colleagues were unable to attend.  Was that a big disappointment?

Yoo: Yes, with that tournament going on, it was too bad we couldn’t have had more of my colleagues from the national team at the wedding.  But we had a lot of close friends and family so it was still a special occasion.

This week, Yoo Yeon Seong is participating in the only Superseries Premier tournament that he has never won.  He is the top seed in the Malaysia Open, along with Lee Yong Dae, who won the event in 2009 with Jung Jae Sung.  They begin their campaign with a match against 2014 China Masters winners Kang Jun / Liu Cheng of China.

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