UNIVERSIADE 2015 – Sweep and sour

Korea’s sweep of the Universiade badminton ends on a sour note as Kim Gi Jung and Kim Sa Rang take the men’s doubles gold on a shocking line call. Story […]

Korea’s sweep of the badminton ends on a sour note as Kim Gi Jung and Kim Sa Rang take the men’s doubles gold on a shocking line call.

Story and photos by Don Hearn

It would have been a great finale if it hadn’t been for the last point.  Korea’s Kim Gi Jung and Kim Sa Rang (pictured) played spectacular defense in a high-speed, action packed men’s doubles final, attempting to add a fifth individual badminton gold to the mixed team title Korea had won on Wednesday.

Bitburger Open champions Wang Yilu and Zhang Wen clawed their way back in the second game and erased three match points, only to see the Koreans inch ahead once again to 21-20.  Then a flat fast exchange ended in a drive that narrowly threaded between Kim Gi Jung’s racquet and body and landed – as television replays soon revealed – at least twenty centimetres inside the back line on the Koreans’ side.

As the Chinese prepared to serve with the shuttle that the Koreans had duly returned to them, the umpire called “Game!” and pointed out that the line judge had called the shuttle out and that the umpire himself had not seen it land.  The howls of protest from the Chinese players and coaches were to no avail.  The tournament referee approached the umpire’s chair but had no choice but to accept the declaration of the match’s completion, as the umpire was unable to correct the call and the event had no electronic call review system in place.

Kim Gi Jung actually went from two golds in the 2013 Universiade to three as his men’s doubles victory came after he had already bagged the mixed doubles and mixed team titles, just as he had two years earlier.

Kim’s mixed partner Shin Seung Chan also found herself taking two individual golds on Sunday.  She and Lee So Hee were again able to beat China’s Yu Xiaohan (pictured) in a women’s doubles final.  World #11 Yu, who has won two Grand Prix Gold and a Superseries title with partner Ou Dongni, had lost to the Koreans in both the Asian and World Junior Championship finals in 2012.  Lee and Shin were just too strong and too confident for the Singapore Open winners and claimed victory in less than half an hour.

Apart from Wang and Zhang, Thailand’s Porntip Buranaprasertsuk (pictured) was perhaps the closest to preventing a Korean sweep.  In Kazan in 2013, it was her compatriot Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk who became the only non-Korean to take badminton gold.  This year, Porntip was just shy of beating defending women’s singles champion Sung Ji Hyun.

Sung had the upper hand throughout most of the first game but allowed the Thai to pass her late in the game.  The Korean surged ahead with a run of points good enough to give her the 21-18 win.

In the second game, Porntip raced out to an early 7-2 lead but Sung slowly but surely whittled away at the Thai’s advantage and took it home 21-19.  It was her sixth straight win over Porntip, who won their first encounter back in 2009, also on Korean soil.

The men’s singles was a Cinderella story as Malaysia Masters runner-up Jeon Hyeok Jin (pictured) found his way past all of the past and present top ten players in the draw.  Jeon’s first high-profile victim was 2013 gold medallist and former world #9 Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk of Thailand.  After dispatching the Thai in the quarter-finals, Jeon proceeded to send French Open winner and current world #8 Chou Tien Chen, also in straight games.

The final produced the only lost game for Jeon as Hong Kong Open champion Son Wan Ho bounced back from a narrow loss in the first to dominate his second game against his compatriot, winning 21-13.  Jeon would have known that Son is far from unbeatable in competition, as the veteran lost earlier this year in a domestic team event to their 19-year-old team-mate Heo Kwang Hee.  Jeon, who turned 20 a month ago, kept his wits about him and held onto the lead in the home stretch to win the decider 21-17.

As the fourth in a string of major events gets underway in Toronto, all of the gold medallists from Gwangju will be heading directly over to the Chinese Taipei Open.  The Grand Prix Gold event kicks off on Tuesday in Taipei.

Final Results
XD: Kim Gi Jung / Shin Seung Chan (KOR) [3/4] beat Lu Ching-Yao / Chiang Kai Hsin  (TPE)  21-14, 21-11
WS: Sung Ji Hyun (KOR) [2] beat Porntip Buranaprasertsuk (THA) [3/4]  21-18, 21-19
MS: Jeon Hyeok Jin (KOR) [5/8] beat Son Wan Ho (KOR) [2]  22-20, 13-21, 21-17
WD: Shin Seung Chan / Lee So Hee (KOR) [1] beat Ou Dongni / Yu Xiaohan (CHN) [2] 21-16, 21-13
MD: Kim Gi Jung / Kim Sa Rang (KOR) [1] beat Wang Yilu / Zhang Wen (CHN) [2] 21-16, 22-20

Click here for complete results

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