Ra Kyung Min comes home

Retired badminton superstar Ra Kyung Min is back home in Korea after nearly 4 years in Canada and has taken a key coaching job with the Daekyo pro team. Story […]

Retired badminton superstar Ra Kyung Min is back home in Korea after nearly 4 years in Canada and has taken a key coaching job with the Daekyo pro team.

Story and photos: Don Hearn, Badzine Correspondent, live in Seoul

It is nearly exactly four years after Ra Kyung Min left her homeland to join husband and former mixed doubles partner Kim Dong Moon in Calgary, Canada.  Now with two children in tow, Ra has returned to her former professional home, Daekyo Noonnopi Women’s Badminton Club, to fill a much-needed coaching position.

“It is a great honour for me to return to Daekyo as its ,” said Ra at a press conference held this morning in a downtown Seoul hotel.  “So much has happened since I first came to Daekyo as a player in 1999 and I am resolved to do my best now as a to restore Daekyo to its former glory at the pinnacle of Korean women’s badminton.”

Once the dynasty in tournaments, in the heyday of Atlanta gold medallist Bang Su Hyun and later Ra, Daekyo’s fortunes have dipped slightly since Ra’s in 2006 and persistent injury problems for remaining stars Hwang Yu Mi and Jun Jae Youn.  With the recent departure of coach Kim Kyung Ran and the demands facing Daekyo Head Coach Sung Han Kook in his new position at the helm of Korea’s national team, Ra’s return comes in a time of great need for the team.

“It was a very difficult decision to make, on account of our kids,” said Ra, “but I talked it over with my husband and we think we have made the right decision.  It does feel natural for me to return to Daekyo and help the players there.  I would like to see some of them achieve what I was unable to.”

After such an illustrious career, in which she won two Asian Games gold medals, two World Championships, a Sudirman Cup, and an astounding number of international Open titles, Ra was forced to admit again that the major piece missing from her puzzle of trophies was Olympic gold but stopped short of aiming for a national team staff position.

Left to right: Ra Kyung Min, Kim Moon Hi, Choi Hye In, Seo Myung Won

“I have only just returned to Korea in the last couple of weeks and my priority right now is to get my team back to the top.  I have no plans to return to the national team.  Perhaps once we get Daekyo back on top, I will think about helping the national team staff.”

Ra, of course, had a false start to a comeback as a player in the fall of 2009, when she returned for two tournaments with Daekyo, in the hopes of returning to full form and possibly even trying for gold in London.  However, a lack of promising results and concerns within the national badminton leadership about the chances for Korea’s younger competitors cut short that attempt.

After retiring post-Athens, Ra spent two years as a sometimes-playing coach at Daekyo and as a national team trainer so she has several reasons to feel ‘right at home’: at Daekyo, on the sidelines, and in Seoul.

Kim Dong Moon to be back by summer

Daekyo Sports Director Seo Myung Won explained that Ra’s husband Kim Dong Moon has been asked to rejoin his own alma mater, Wonkwang University, as a professor.  Though the timing of his return from Canada has still not been fixed, he is expected to return to Korea and rejoin his family in June of this year.

Left to right: Kim Moon Hi, Seo Myung Won, Choi Hye In

“Right now, because the kids are so small, it has been very difficult,” Ra explained.  “I have been relying on my parents to spend a considerable amount of time looking after them but it is still hard since we have come back to Korea without my husband.  We are looking forward to him coming back in June, however.”

In with the older, in with the new…

The event this morning was also an opportunity for Daekyo to welcome its on-court reinforcements, as they have signed Korea’s top university and high school players of the last few years, Kim Moon Hi and Choi Hye In, respectively (for more on Choi, click here).  The two young hopefuls were ceremonially given their new Daekyo uniforms, which they will now wear alongside their talented veteran team-mates, who include Lee Yun Hwa, Ha Jung Eun, Park Sun Young, and Lee Hyun Jin.

The event also saw a special appearance by comedian Bang Il Soo, who was on hand to deliver a message of congratulations on behalf of his daughter, the great Bang Soo Hyun, Daekyo’s original marquee player.

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