Korea’s national badminton coaches have named their new team for 2017 and while they still have ten veteran shuttlers who have been in the world’s top 5 this year, these ten are joined by eleven teenagers.
The Badminton Korea Association (BKA) announced their 2017 national team line-up just hours after the media reported the appointment of new Head Coach Kang Kyung Jin. Kang has been in Hwasun since before Christmas, putting the top players through their paces as they struggled to prove their worth under the watchful eyes of the new coaching staff.
The eight qualifiers for the Superseries Finals – which finished just a couple of days before the tryouts began – all qualified automatically, as did Yoo Yeon Seong and Kim Gi Jung, who were ranked #1 and #2 in the world, respectively, before their partners retired this past autumn.
There were no big surprises in singles, where all but Son and Sung participated in a round robin qualifying event. However, slightly unexpected was the strong performance by Jun Joo I. Jun has not competed internationally since 2014 but she followed up her upset of team-mate Kim Hyo Min at the recent Korea Masters but finishing second in her round robin group.
Also putting in an impressive performance was Woo Seung Hoon. The 17-year-old won the high school division of the 2016 Summer Championships, as well as the under-19 title at the Korea Junior Open. He is one of five players who will still be eligible for junior events in 2017. The other boys are Korea Junior Open boys’ doubles runners-up Kang Min Hyuk / Kim Won Ho (pictured top).
16-year-olds Baek Ha Na and Lee Yu Rim won the under-17 girls’ singles and doubles titles respectively at the Korea Junior Open but both made the senior national team as doubles players. Lee was runner-up at the Asian Juniors in mixed doubles with Kim Won Ho, who is also the son of 1996 gold medallist Gil Young Ah. Baek Ha Na (pictured above), who won’t turn 17 until next September, is the youngest player named to the team.
Most of the players who were unsuccessful in their bid to make the national team are relatively unknown internationally, as might be expected in a rebuilding period like we are in following the Rio Olympics. A couple of exceptions are former top ten players Go Ah Ra and Eom Hye Won. Go was split last spring from Yoo Hae Won (pictured left, with Kim Hye Rin), who had been her partner since they were on the same middle school team together. Yoo made the team for 2017 but Go was passed over this time around.
Former World Championship silver medallist Eom Hye Won has won 3 of the 5 domestic tournament finals she has been in since she was cut from the national team in May but still she was not selected to return to the team for 2017.
The complete rosters for the 2017 Korean National Badminton Team are shown below:
|Son Wan Ho||Sung Ji Hyun|
|Lee Dong Keun||Lee Min Ji|
|Seo Seung Jae||Kim Hyo Min|
|Jeon Hyeok Jin||Kim Na Young|
|Woo Seung Hoon||Jun Joo I|
|Heo Kwang Hee||Lee Jang Mi|
|Ha Young Woong||Kim Ga Eun|
|Kim Min Ki||Kim Hyang Im|
|Yoo Yeon Seong||Chang Ye Na|
|Ko Sung Hyun||Kim Ha Na|
|Kim Gi Jung||Jung Kyung Eun|
|Choi Sol Gyu||Shin Seung Chan|
|Kim Jae Hwan||Lee So Hee|
|Chung Eui Seok||Chae Yoo Jung|
|Kim Duk Young||Kim So Young|
|Park Kyung Hoon||Yoo Hae Won|
|Kim Won Ho||Kim Hye Rin|
|Kang Min Hyuk||Baek Ha Na|
|Kim Hui Tae||Kong Hee Yong|
|Choi Jong Woo||Lee Yu Rim|