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Korea’s Shon Wan Ho won his first ever international title in style this week in New Delhi, making it a Superseries, with a victory over world #1 Lee Chong Wei […]

Korea’s Shon Wan Ho won his first ever international title in style this week in New Delhi, making it a , with a victory over world #1 Lee Chong Wei to boot.

By Don Hearn, Badzine Correspondent.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (archives)

The obscurity from which Shon Wan Ho (pictured) began this week was due to more than just his not being seeded.  Standing 17th in Olympic ranking points, Shon was also at risk of being left at home while eleven team-mates boarded the plane for London.

Even among players from his own hometown, he lags behind Beijing bronze medallists Hwang and Lee, nor is he even the most famous badminton player from Milyang with the family name Shon, as that distinction belongs to Athens silver medallist Seung Mo, who was coaching the younger Shon (no relation) from courtside this afternoon.

His lack of fame translated into an uphill battle for crowd support as not only his home favourite semi-final opponent, but also his legendary adversaries today and on Friday, were earning the bulk of the cheering from the Indian fans.

It was the perfect week, then, for Shon to put his own name on the map by scoring his first ever victory over Peter Gade on Friday, and with it, enter his first Superseries semi-final and qualify for his first Olympics.

However, not yet content, the Korean continued to add to that his first Superseries final, and then his first international title and first victory over the great Lee Chong Wei (pictured).

Known for his superb defense, Shon also brought to the court today terrific fitness and some clever, varied attacking.  The two men traded dominance in the first two games but after leading 18-13 in the decider, Shon allowed the top-seeded Malaysian to slingshot past him to 19-18 before finding his consistency again and finishing it 21-19.

“He played well,” said Chong Wei afterward. “I’m coming from an injury, so it’s a good result for me. The shoulder did not trouble me, but after the All England I’ve not had a lot of practice. I wanted to enjoy this event.”

“Chong Wei was nervous at times,” Shon said. “I just wanted to do my best.”

Shon was not the first Korean to score a first-ever victory on Sunday.  In the opening match on finals day, and Kim Ha Na (pictured) bested China’s Bao Yixin / Zhong Qianxin for the first time in three meetings.   Jung and Zhong, in particular, have a rivalry that dates way back to the World Junior Championship final in 2007.

Jung and Kim, like Shon, were on a high after booking their own ticket to the London Olympics.  They also gave their supporters a similar scare late in the match when they frittered away a 14-8 lead and then had to come-from-behind to grab their match point chances.  They were also the first of the three first-time Superseries titleists on the day.

Between the two Korean victories came a pair of titles for the afternoon’s favourites.  First, Tontowi Ahmad and Lilyana Natsir (pictured right) duplicated their SEA Games gold medal win over Prapakamol/Thoungthongkam of Thailand.

Then it was All England and Asian Champion Li Xuerui (pictured below) seeing off Juliane Schenk in three.  In both cases, the runners-up were able to completely have their way with one game before finally feeling the hammer drop.  Unlike the Thais, however, Schenk was hoping to join in the party of first Superseries titles.

“I think I was a bit tired, but I will eventually win a [major] title,” said Schenk after her final.   “I’m happy with my performance here.  Full credit to her.

“Today I didn’t feel so good; the flow was missing. It was an odd game. After I won the first, I trailed by 0-8 and almost caught up with her, but I couldn’t.”

The final match of the day was yet another first Superseries title for yet another new London qualifier.  In the case of the men’s doubles, however, Bodin Issara / Maneepong Jongjit (pictured below) came into it having already won their only previous meeting with the world #4 Ko/Yoo.

As in their semi-final, the Thais were relentless in their attacks and deadly at the net.  The Koreans did some high flying and hard smashing of their own, but in the end, they were not able to maintain their focus and intensity to the level that Issara and Jongjit were doing.

There was some controversy early in the deciding game when a Thai drive fired past a seated Yoo Yeon Seong far long of the back line was called out, then corrected as in.  While there was some possibility, according to the Thais, and to the appearance of the big-screen replay, that the shuttle had been ticked by the Koreans on the way by, the umpire’s call was clearly just a correction of the line call.

The umpire continued to get involved, also, to caution the young Thais on some very aggressive fist-pumping celebrations between points.  However, nerves never seemed to get the best of the underdogs and they stayed anxious and daring but never sloppy, and ended up adding a Superseries title to the Grand Prix Gold they picked up last fall.

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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 @