Legends’ Vision sees doubles in Korea

Singles star Peter Gade was in Korea this past weekend to share both court and microphone with no fewer than four local doubles legends. Story and photos by Don Hearn […]

Singles star Peter Gade was in Korea this past weekend to share both court and microphone with no fewer than four local doubles legends.

Story and photos by Don Hearn

The Legends’ Vision tour organized by badminton equipment manufacturer Yonex has been very popular for placing singles superstars Peter Gade, Taufik Hidayat, Lee Chong Wei, and Lin Dan on court and on camera together.  Earlier this year, Korean doubles superstar Lee Yong Dae donned his own black suit to join the quartet on the sidelines of the All England but when the event had its Korean edition this past weekend, only Peter Gade made the trip and instead of his usual singles colleagues, he and Lee were joined by Athens men’s doubles gold medallists Kim Dong Moon and Ha Tae Kwon.

Asked whether he felt focus the change from featuring mainly singles players was a natural one, Peter Gade said, “To be honest, yes, I was on top of the singles for many years but for me, this is just a great experience because these three guys have inspired thousands of people all over the world, including me. 

“In the doubles category, watching these great, great personalities, there is a reason why they achieved what they did.  They really deserve the credit and they deserve to be part of the message that I have tried to do with Lin Dan, Lee Chong Wei, and Taufik.  It’s a natural thing to me that they are part of this, in some way.  It’s a heritage and they took part in it and it’s really great to be here with these guys.”

Lee Yong Dae talked of his new role as not only the first doubles specialist to be included in the international series of these events but also of his status as the youngest participant, a status even more pronounced with the presence of Kim and of Ha Tae Kwon who, as Head of the Yonex Badminton Team, is effectively Lee’s boss.

“It is really an honour to be sitting here with three men I’ve admired so much since I was a little kid,” said Lee Yong Dae.  “I hope that people who love badminton will continue to take an interest in the message we are trying to put across with these Legends’ Vision events.”

Peter had a lot to say when asked about his perception of the way modern badminton has developed and how he deals with that in his new role coaching the top French players: “Things are always changing at the top of the game, in all of the categories but I think that Korea still has a proud tradition, particularly in doubles but also in singles.  I’m sure that the biggest target should still be to devote your life and to be a badminton player, not only a little bit, but you need to do it 100%, 24 hours a day.  That’s how you get to the highest possible level.  I’m sure that’s what these three guys did.

“That’s the message that we have to send to all the young players, that they have to put in the biggest possible effort and then they can dream about going high.  We know that the sport gave us so much so we want to pass on this feeling to the young generation.

“In today’s game, at a high level, no doubt you have to be a complete player.  You cannot be only a defensive player or an offensive player.  You have to be able to do everything.  No matter whether it is singles or doubles, you need a complete game.  When I look at my young players in France, I look at trying to make them complete.  In France, this is a big challenge.  In Korea or in Denmark, it is a little bit different because you have a badminton culture.

“You look at all parts of the game: the technical part, tactical part, the psychological part, the physical part – doing weights, doing stamina.  That’s why badminton is complicated and I think that’s also why we like it so much.  As a coach, I have to motivate the players to be willing to put everything into each area, not only some, because if you don’t go for the complete package, you’re not going to go far enough.

“At the same time you have to remember that badminton is a game.  It’s something we have to enjoy so even though all of us practiced really, really hard every day for many, many years, every day you have to go on court and play with a smile on your face and say ‘I love this.’”

The suit-and-tie interview session, however, was only a short precursor to the show the four men were planning for the badminton court.  Ha Tae Kwon seemed particularly pumped before the game and when it was suggested that he and Peter Gade might not have played each other before Ha said, “Actually, we have played each other before. It was in the 1996 Malaysia Open.  I was playing with now national team Head Coach Kang Kyung Jin and Peter Gade was playing with Michael Sogaard.  We won very easily 2-1, so we have that experience.

“As you know, Head Coach Peter Gade is well-known for his trick shots, which I’m sure all of you have seen on the Internet so I have watched many of these videos and I will be attempting to make sure he can’t use these on us today.

“I have been practicing a lot.  I play matches and I run a lot so my fitness is good and mentally I’m ready so I’ll do my best and I am definitely in a winning mindset.”

Indeed, Ha Tae Kwon was by far the most animated on court and at the post-interview photo session, suggested a boxing pose for the two pairs.

Peter Gade also shared his memories of 1996 when, as he confirmed, he was the reigning World Junior Champion in boys’ doubles: “Yes, I do remember that Malaysia Open.  It’s a long time ago but I do.  It’s funny when Ha mentioned to me about an hour ago when we were talking.  These are really great memories.

“This was in the very early stages of my badminton career and one of the first times that I took part in one of the big Asian tournaments and actually I only played that match for fun as a substitute for another guy and I love to play doubles and this was just a great match when all four players were giving everything and fighting and I love to play matches like this.  This is what I do and I love to play Ha Tae Kwon in matches like this.”

Incidentally, on that occasion in Kuala Lumpur, Gade was stopped in the men’s singles by eventual runner-up Indra Wijaya who, like Ha Tae Kwon, would later find himself coaching for the Korean national team.

As for the match itself, Kim Dong Moon seemed increasingly troubled by the pace, and halfway through, Ha Tae Kwon asked for permission to request a substitute.   This granted, he called out “Yeon Seong-ah!” and the ‘surprise’ mystery substitute Yoo Yeon Seong made his grand entrance.

Kim Dong Moon, who has done very little coaching and even less playing since becoming a professor of exercise physiology at his alma mater Wonkwang University, seemed less keen than the others on going all-out to win on court.

“I actually haven’t had much time to exercise.  I will of course do my best but moreso than winning, I am here to convey the message of the Legends’ Vision event and to show people and teach them what top-level badminton is all about,” said Kim Dong Moon, at which his partner teased him for being so education-minded.

When it came time for the two former partners to literally school some pre-teen players in a coaching clinic following the matches, Ha in fact left all of the verbal instruction to Professor Kim.  Prior to that, both Kim Dong Moon and Lee Yong Dae partnered adult recreational players for a short game of mixed doubles.

Ha Tae Kwon unleashed some powerful jump smashes but the over-40 side eventually needed the addition of the player most recently active in international competition, Yoo Yeon Seong (pictured below).

As it turned out, Peter Gade and Lee Yong Dae still held the two-point advantage when they closed it out at 21 points.  However, it was the doubles star Lee Yong Dae who won the last rally against the former men’s singles world #1 to win a very abbreviated singles game 8-7.


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