WORLDS 2014 Finals – Underdogs Ko/Shin outshine World #1s

Ko Sung Hyun had a point to make against his ex-partners Lee Yong Dae and Yoo Yeon Seong at the opposite side of the court in the fight for the […]

Ko Sung Hyun had a point to make against his ex-partners Lee Yong Dae and Yoo Yeon Seong at the opposite side of the court in the fight for the gold medal.  The outcome was an outstanding all-Korean men’s doubles finals that went beyond the crowd’s expectations.

By Emzi Regala, live from Copenhagen. Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

Yoo Yeon Seong was standing beside the podium Ko Sung Hyun in the 2011 edition of the World Badminton Championships when they received their silver medals.  It was the year Lee Yong Dae and then partner Jung Jae Sung were bronze medallists, after twice having won silver themselves.

After the Jung retired, Ko was chosen to partner with Lee Yong Dae but this pairing was broken down within the year as he was replaced with Yoo.  Ko Sung Hyun found himself partnering with Shin Baek Cheol (pictured), who Sunday appeared in his first World Championship final.

Every rally garnered “oohs!” and loud applause from the crowd, who were treated to a 3-game thriller filled with adrenaline and heart-stopping excitement.  Ko/Shin made sure to convert their match point opportunity in the third game after letting one slide in the second.  The underdogs not only won their first major title together and more importantly took the honours to be the first Koreans to bring the men’s doubles medal back home since 1999.

Super star Lee Yong Dae was again disappointed and left to settle for second best for the third time in this event.

“We felt very comfortable fighting our compatriots because we know their style.  The condition at the stadium was very good too.  These factors contributed to our victory,” said Shin Baek Cheol after the match.

In the doubles event, Zhao Yunlei once again shone as she repeated her feat from the London Olympics, this time taking two golds at the , one in the women’s event with Tian Qing and the other one in mixed, with Zhang Nan.  She equals a feat last achieved by the great Gao Ling in 2001.

They may have loosened their grip on the top world rankings and slipped to 7th and 8th spot respectively, but matches between Zhao Yunlei / Tian Qing and Wang Xiaoli / Yu Yang (pictured) remain one of the best to watch in women’s doubles badminton.  Both having played only 8 tournaments together, they sometimes got caught in communication problems, several times leaving the shuttle with no one to take it.  The crowd was nevertheless entertained with both pairs’ display of excellent defense, solid offense and very low flat exchanges.

Olympic champions Zhao/Tian were slightly better coordinated and took the first game 21-19.  In the second game, the Olympic champions were able to take Wang Xiaoli out as the channel attack targeted Yu Yang to push her to the back of the court and move her around.  The encounter consummated with a 21-15 score for the Olympic champions, awarding them their first women’s doubles World Championship gold.

“We’ve worked hard for so many years so we are very excited about winning.  This is very special because this is our first gold together,” said the teary-eyed Zhao Yunlei after the match.

“We know Yu/Wang very well and we’ve played with each other for so long.  Since we’re getting older there will be less chance to play against each other in big stages, so we treasure every opportunity to play against them,” added Tian Qing.

The mixed event was a re-run of the 2012 London Olympic finals, featuring usual rivals Zhang Nan / Zhao Yunlei (pictured) and Xu Chen / Ma Jin.  The first game was dominated by Zhang/Zhao but Xu/Ma refused to let go of the championship gold took the equalizer game that needed extra 2 points.  In the final game, Zhang/Zhao had more energy in reserve to pull through another victory over their compatriots.

Final doubles results
WD: Tian Qing / Zhao Yunlei (CHN) [5] beat Wang Xiaoli / Yu Yang (CHN) [4]  21-19, 21-15
MD: Ko Sung Hyun / Shin Baek Cheol (KOR) [12] beat Lee Yong Dae / Yoo Yeon Seong (KOR) [2]  22-20, 21-23, 21-18
XD: Zhang Nan / Zhao Yunlei (CHN) [1] beat Xu Chen / Ma Jin (CHN) [2] 21-12, 21-23, 21-13

Click here for complete results

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