Korea has seen a late addition to its list of post-Rio retirements as world #2 Ko Sung Hyun announced his retirement from the national team today. In an in-depth interview published today by Korea’s Yonhap News Agency, the 29-year-old announced that he would be leaving the national training centre at the end of January and begin working harder toward completing his masters thesis in sports psychology.
Like his compatriot Lee Yong Dae, who retired following his Korea Open title in October, Ko intends to continue playing in international leagues and he will, of course, stay with the Gimcheon City Hall professional team to play badminton in domestic Korean events. Kim Sa Rang and Bae Yeon Ju also retired after the Rio Olympics but Kim has left his pro team and Bae has not played in any pro leagues outside of Korea.
As one of the few Korean players who did not play on the national junior team while in high school, Ko has had a shorter international career than his contemporaries. His first international tournament was exactly 10 years ago next week, at the 2007 Korea Open Super Series. Later that year, Ko won his first international title in only his second trip overseas, taking the Vietnam Open title with Kwon Yi Goo.
Ko told Yonhap that his partner Kim Ha Na, with whom he reached world #1 in the mixed doubles rankings this past autumn, was aware that he was considering retirement and he feels some remorse over ending their partnership. The highlight of his career was winning the men’s doubles World Championship title in 2014 but his last international title came when he and Kim won the Korea Masters Grand Prix Gold in December, on Kim’s home island of Jeju.
We at Badzine wish Ko Sung Hyun all the best in his future endeavours.
Update (2017-01-20): It was reported today by the Halla Ilbo in Jeju that Kim Ha Na will now be paired with former men’s doubles world #1 Yoo Yeon Seong. They should begin appearing on court next month at the Badminton Asia Mixed Team Championships in Vietnam.