China’s hopes of winning the Sudirman Cup for the 11th time against a determined South Korea who rallied strongly for a 3-2 win in the final at the Carrara Indoor Sports Stadium in Gold Coast, Australia on Sunday.
It was only the fourth time the Koreans won the mixed team title and their first since 2003 2003 when they beat China 3-1 in the final in Eindhoven, Netherlands. Their other two successes were in 1993 and 1991 in Birmingham, England and Copenhagen, Denmark respectively when they beat Indonesia on both occasions by 3-2 margins.
For China it was another miserable outing in a mixed team event. In the inaugural Robot Badminton Asia Mixed Team Championships in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam in February where they fell to Japan 3-1 in the semi-finals.
The pair that made it count when it mattered most in Gold Coast in the Sudirman Cup was Choi Solgyu-Chae Yoo-jung in the mixed doubles, clinching the winner with a straight sets 21-17, 21-13 win over Lu Kai-Huang Yaqiong – the All England and Asian champions.
That victory came in 51 minutes – Choi Solgyu threw himself on the court while Yoo-jung ran across to meet head coach Kang Kyung-jin in court for a big hug. Soon the rest of the Korean teammates and officials were heaped on each other with joy while the defeated Chinese pair were left in a daze with a blank look.
The rest is history as Korea became the new holders of the gold plated solid silver trophy and deny the 10-time champions and hot favourites China.
The day started well for China and they looked good for their 11th title with the first point coming through the men’s doubles. Olympic champions Fu Haifeng-Zhang Nan were not troubled in their 21-14, 21-15 win over Choi Solgyu Seo Seung-jae in 42 minutes.
It was 1-1 for Korea in the next tie – the women’s singles. Sung Ji-hyun, ranked No 4, gave a polished display to outwit He Bingjiao 21-12, 21-16 in 49 minutes but the Koreans fell behind again when world and Olympic champion Chen Long took the court for the men’s singles in the third tie of the match.
Korea rested their world No 1 Son Wan-ho from the final and fielded Jeon Hyeok-jin for the men’s singles.
Chen Long, who added the Asian title in Wuhan, China to his collection in April, however, did not have it easy in his 21-10, 21-10 win over up and coming Jeon Hyeok-jin who battled for 47 minutes before losing out on experience.
If China thought that they had sewn up the final they were jolted by All-England champions Chang Ye-na-Lee S0-hee in the women’s doubles. The Koreans came through 21-19 in a tough first set before completing victory 21-13 in the second in 55 minutes to take the tie the rubber.
The rest is history as Korea gave strong signals that they are coming out stronger with some new set of players. – BY RIZAL ABDULLAH
SUDIRMAN CUP FINAL
South Korea beat China 3-2\
MD: Choi Solgyu-Seo Seung-jae lost to Fu Haifeng-Zhang Nan 14-21, 15-21
WS: Sung Ji-hyun beat He Bingjiao 21-12, 21-16
MS: Jeon Hyeok-jin lost to Chen Long 10-21, 10-21
WD: Cheng Ye-na-Lee So-hee beat Cheng Qingchen-Jia Yifan 21-19, 21-13
XD: Choi Solgyu-Chae Yoo-jung beat Lu Kai-Huang Yaqiong 21-17, 21-13