Korea’s singles queen to be named to Hall of Fame

The Badminton Korea Association (BKA) announced last week that Atlanta Olympic gold medallist Bang Soo Hyun would be inducted into the Badminton Hall of Fame in May. According to Badminton […]

The (BKA) announced last week that Atlanta Olympic gold medallist Bang Soo Hyun would be inducted into the Badminton in May.

According to Badminton World Federation () records, it has been nearly 7 years since any new players were named to the Badminton Hall of Fame.  But when the news about Bang Soo Hyun (pictured, with Park Joo Bong) was reported in the Korean media last week, it was the recognition of a singles tradition in Korean badminton that took centre stage.

Since Park Joo Bong became the first Korean inducted into the sport’s Hall of Fame, back in 2001, an additional 7 players have followed from the northeast Asian badminton power.  The last was 2004 Olympic men’s doubles gold medallist Ha Tae Kwon, whose partner had been selected 3 years earlier.

What all 8 previous Korean inductees had in common was that they were all doubles specialists.  The only ones with a major singles title to her name was Ra Kyung Min, who won the Singapore Open in 1994 while still a teenager but attained her legendary status after switching to doubles a couple of years later.

Bang Soo Hyun was a singles player through and through.  She shot to prominence in 1992, when she reached 5 major finals, including the and the Barcelona Olympics, and won the Hong Kong Open title.  By the time she retired from international badminton at the tender age of 24, she had won the and both Asian and Olympic Games gold.  Bang is the only Korean to win an Olympic medal in women’s singles but is one of three Koreans with singles titles.  Korea has won gold at both the Olympics and at the at least once in every discipline but men’s singles, where Shon Seung Mo’s silver in Athens is the only Olympic medal to go to Korea.

The BKA press release announced that the induction ceremony would be held in concert with the BWF’s Annual General Meeting, itself a sideshow to the Sudirman Cup competition.  Incidentally, Bang Soo Hyun was a member of Korea’s winning Sudirman teams in 1991 and 1993.  Although she lost to now fellow Hall-of-Famer Susi Susanti (pictured above, with Bang) in both finals, she did score a very memorable victory over her Indonesian rival in her last tournament, en route to winning women’s singles gold in Atlanta.

BWF records indicate that the last time new players were named to the Hall of Fame was in 2012.  At that time, along with Ha Tae Kwon was Bang’s successor as Olympic women’s singles champion, Gong Zichao of China.

Photos: Raphael Sachetat / Badmintonphoto

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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