No more age limit for Korean independents

Some positive news emerged yesterday from the Badminton Korea Association (BKA) as the Yonhap News Agency reported the body would be doing away with its age limit for independent players […]

Some positive news emerged yesterday from the (BKA) as the Yonhap News Agency reported the body would be doing away with its age limit for independent players to be entered in international ranking events.

Photos: Badmintonphoto

The decision comes 6 months after 2014 World Champions Ko Sung Hyun and Shin Baek Cheol had won an injunction in the courts the forced the BKA to honour their wishes to join international tournaments.  This development soon led to Ko and Shin winning the Vietnam Open in August, followed a few weeks later by Lee Yong Dae and Kim Gi Jung (pictured) prevailing at the Spain Masters.  The two veteran pairs also met in the final of the recent Macau Open.

According to Yonhap, the BKA had been considering appealing the injunction but finally decided on the rule change.  The agency said that the badminton governing body had been complaining all along that allowing top retired players to compete independently of the team would both limit opportunities for team players to qualify for international events with nation quotas and hurt the team’s attractiveness to sponsors but pointed out that the current equipment sponsor Victor is cancelling its contract with the team anyway, due to a lack of results.

In fact, Korea’s men’s doubles rankings are currently such that the nation would be eligible to send no pairs to an event like the Olympics.  Also, two years ago, veteran Lee Hyun Il chose to stop competing 3 months before the qualification cutoff for Rio, despite being virtually assured of making the top 16 and being invited as a second Korean shuttler.

Prior to the injunction and the announced rule change, the BKA consented to enter independent players only if they were over the age of 31 or of 29 in the case of female shuttlers.  Exceptions have always been made in the past for the and for certain pro or university teams who applied to the BKA for permission to send their entire team to a small event not being attended by the national team.  The last time this latter category involved a tournament was in 2010, when Samsung Electromechanics travelled to the Australian Open and the Korea National University of Physical Education sent a team to the Canada Open.

Lee Yong Dae and Kim Gi Jung are currently competing at the Hong Kong Open Super 500, while Ko and Shin won the Malaysia International Series on Sunday and are not preparing for the Korea Masters , along with fellow Macau Open entrant Kim Sa Rang.  Ko Sung Hyun will also be competing in mixed doubles with former World Championship runner-up Eom Hye Won (pictured right).  Eom’s last international event was the 2016 Korea Masters and she has not competed overseas since the Asian Championships earlier that year.  It remains to be seen whether the 27-year-old will be taking advantage of the new rule change but she is one of 10 Koreans who were drafted for the 4th edition of India’s Premier Badminton League.

Click here to read the original report from the Yonhap News Agency in Korean

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