UNIVERSIADE – 5 of 6 golds for the home team

Tai Tzu Ying hit for the cycle by winning gold and Wang Chi-Lin and Seo Seung Jae traded disciplines from their last event in Taipei as Korean men’s doubles was […]

Tai Tzu Ying hit for the cycle by winning gold and Wang Chi-Lin and Seo Seung Jae traded disciplines from their last event in Taipei as Korean men’s doubles was the only exception to a home team sweep of badminton gold at the 2017 Summer .

By Don Hearn.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (archives)

Tai Tzu Ying (pictured) won silver at the Summer Universiade in Kazan four years ago.  Two years ago in Gwangju, she was beaten in the semis and ended up with bronze.  In 2017, playing at home in a tournament that kept her from the World Championships – an event she was also favoured to win as the world #1 – she finally took the gold.

Tai’s opponent in the final was Korea’s Lee Jang Mi.  The two had met in the semi-final stage of the Badminton Asia Championships.  At that event, Lee was a surprise entry into the final four, belying her world #57 by beating two top ten opponents, including the woman who would go on to become World Champion this summer.  Fast forward to this week and Lee – who could not even qualify for the worlds on the basis of her April – is knocking on the door of the world’s top 20 and was Tai’s main challenger for the gold.

Still, the Korean wasn’t able to mount much of a challenge to the world #1 in the final this week in Taipei.  Tai won in two straight games to take the third badminton gold for Taiwan at these Games, as the home team had come into finals day having already taken the mixed team gold last week.

At the last Universiade, the home team had actually swept the golds.  Korea won the mixed team gold and then all five individual disciplines.  The big surprise in this year’s individual event came in the men’s doubles.  The top seeds were champions Lee Jhe-Huei / Lee Yang who, like Tai, had skipped the Worlds to win gold at home, something they were overwhelming favourites to do.

Still, the prospect remained for them to meet again with Korea’s Seo Seung Jae (pictured), who had teamed up with Choi Sol Gyu to deal the two Lees an upset that was key to Korea’s run to the Sudirman Cup title this year.  What’s more, Seo’s partner Kim Jae Hwan had teamed up with Choi last year to beat Lee/Lee in the final of the World Badminton Championships.

However, that matchup was not to materialize, as the home favourites were upset in the semi-finals by Japan’s relatively unknown Tamate/Mitsuhashi, who saved a match point to force a deciding game in their semi-final, which they eventually won.

The Japanese pair may not have a world ranking but they are certainly not unknown to the two Koreans they met in the final.  Mitsuhashi in particular, had met both Kim Jae Hwan and Seo Seung Jae several matches going back to junior events in 2014.

Seo and Kim, winners of two national university men’s doubles titles this year, took the first game easily, with the Japanese players struggling to handle Seo’s punishing smashes.  But they were neck-and-neck with the talented Japanese in the second, before finally pulling ahead to win it 21-19.

Wang Chi-Lin, who had been in two finals at his last international tournament in Taipei, was able to take the other final this time.  Denied in mixed doubles in July by none other than Seo Seung Jae, Wang and Lee Chia Hsin (pictured bottom) made good this time, coming back from a game down to beat Malaysia’s Nur Mohd Azriyn Ayub / Goh Yea Ching.

Wang Tzu Wei (pictured above) was the other runner-up from the Chinese Taipei Open to move up one step to take gold.  Wang beat Kenta Nishimoto of Japan to win his first title in his third major international final of 2017.

Thailand Open runners-up Chayanit Chaladchalam / Phat Muenwong were unable to convert on their own second final of the year.  The Thais lost narrowly to Hsu Ya-Ching / Wu Ti-Jung, who took Taiwan’s fifth and last gold for the tournament.

Final results
XD:  Wang Chi-Lin / Lee Chia Hsin (TPE) beat Nur Mohd Azriyn Ayub / Goh Yea Ching (MAS) 12-21, 21-16, 21-14
WS:  Tai Tzu Ying (TPE) beat Lee Jang Mi (KOR)   21-9, 21-13
MS:  Wang Tzu Wei (TPE) beat Kenta Nishimoto (JPN)  21-16, 21-15
WD: Hsu Ya-Ching / Wu Ti-Jung (TPE) beat Chayanit Chaladchalam / Phat Muenwong (THA)  21-17, 22-20
MD:  Kim Jae Hwan / Seo Seung Jae (KOR) beat Katsuki Tamate /Kenya Mitsuhashi (JPN)  21-12, 21-19

Click here for complete results

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