CANADA OPEN 2014 Finals – First step is always the hardest

The first time a player wins a match – or even better, a tournament – is an indescribable moment.  No fewer than four champions at the Canada Open celebrated their […]

The first time a player wins a match – or even better, a tournament – is an indescribable moment.  No fewer than four champions at the celebrated their first ever victory in a event. Former #1 Lee Hyun Il was the only odd man out.

By Elm Vandevorst.  Photos: Badmintonphoto and Don Hearn (archives)

Are the new titleholders at the Canada Open on the verge of new chapters in their careers? And is winning a tournament on such a level just a milestone or the helping hand they required to boost their upcoming performances?

Lee Hyun Il (pictured above) was the only player who had yet won a Grand Prix title. The former World Championship bronze medallist and Asian Games silver medallist has announced his retirement from international competition three times now: in 2007, then again after both the2008 and 2012 Olympics. However two years later decided to start again, filling the void of singles players in the Korean team.

While he’s not competing on such a high level any longer, 34 year-old Lee is still a formidable shuttler, as proven by his victory at the Sri Lanka Open in June where he defeated amongst others Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin, H.S. Prannoy and Anand Pawar. In Vancouver, he was up against upcoming youngster Ng Ka Long, eager on winning his first ever Grand Prix. However the experience of his Korean adversary topped his youthful enthusiasm, sending Ng Ka Long back home with a straightforward 21-16, 21-14 defeat.

More joy for Korea came in the women’s doubles. Choi Hye In (pictured above) and Lee So Hee finally won their first Grand Prix when they overcame compatriots Park So Young and Park Sun Young 21-15, 21-18. Choi and younger partner Lee So Hee are already playing together for some years now, with their first ever badminton gold going back to the 2010 German Junior Open.  The two teams knew each other very well. Not only did Choi play with Saturday rival Park So Young earlier this year at the Korea Open, but the four girls all train together with former World Champion Ra Kyung Min when Choi and Lee are not at the national training centre.

Much to the delight of the home crowd, Canadian Michelle Li (pictured) was also able to win the title. Li had a difficult second game, but still won from Pai Yu Po with 21-16 23-21. The 2011 Pan Am gold medallist in both singles and doubles is the first Canadian winner on home soil since the Open became a Grand Prix event in 2007.

Luckily, Team Taiwan was already assured of a title in the men’s doubles. Liang Jui Wei / Lu Chai Pin overcame compatriots Liao Min Chun / Tseng Min Hao in the only three-game match of the day. Finally, Germany’s Max Schwenger / Carla Nelte (pictured below) won the ‘Battle of Europe’ surmounting Dutch duo in two close games and relegating De Ruiter/Barning to the runner-up position in Canada for the second straight year.

Most athletes will now head to the United States for the U.S. Open Championships starting next Tuesday.  Crowd-pleasers will be, amongst others, the men’s doubles pairing Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen, local favourites Eva Lee and Paula Lynn Obanana and defending men’s singles champion Nguyen Tien Minh.

Final results
WD: Choi Hye In / Lee So Hee (KOR) beat Park So Young / Park Sun Young (KOR)  21-15, 21-18
MD: Liang Jui Wei / Lu Chia Pin (TPE) [5] beat Liao Min Chun / Tseng Min Hao (TPE) [6]  21-18, 16-21, 21-16
XD: Max Schwenger / Carla Nelte (GER) [2] beat Jorrit De Ruiter / Samantha Barning (NED) [1]  21-18, 23-21
MS: Lee Hyun Il (KOR) beat Ng Ka Long (HKG) [15]  21-16, 21-14
WS: Michelle Li (CAN) [1] beat Pai Yu Po (TPE)  21-16, 23-21

Click here for complete results

About Elm Vandevorst