“All of my winnings are in my bank account because I don’t have time to spend them (laughs).”
“Shuttlecock genius” Ahn Se-young (21-Samsung Life) said this at a media day event organized by the South Korean badminton team at the Jincheon Athletes’ Village in Chungcheongbuk-do on Saturday ahead of the Hangzhou Asian Games. Ahn has won seven titles, four runner-up finishes and one third-place finish in 12 international tournaments this year, earning $428,480 (about 574.27 million won) in prize money alone. This year, Ahn tops the Badminton World Federation (BWF) prize money list.
Ahn and the rest of the South Korean badminton team have had a tough time finding time to spend money this year. Until today, the national team had zero official overnight stays. The badminton team organized the media day because they were unable to attend the Hangzhou Asian Games D-30 media day organized by the Korea Sports Federation on the 24th. The badminton team will depart for Copenhagen, Denmark, on Aug. 18 for the World Individual Championships.
Kim Hak-gyun, 52, the national team coach, said, “After the international tournament, I had to go to the domestic tournament, and the rest of the time was spent at the Jincheon Athletes’ Village. It’s a hellish schedule. Our schedule is still full until the end of November.”
Kim tightened the reins to avoid a repeat of the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games. The Korean badminton team came home empty-handed from the event without a single medal. It was the first time in 40 years since the 1978 Bangkok Games that the Korean badminton team went ‘no medal’ at an Asian Games. “In Hangzhou, we are aiming for medals in all (seven) events,” Kim said.
The closest thing to an Asian Games gold medal is world No. 1 Ahn Se-young. Ahn won the Japan Open last month to become the first South Korean player to reach the top of the BWF women’s singles rankings in 27 years, since Suh Bang-hyun (51-retired) in 1996. “My coach Sung Ji-hyun (32) always tells me, ‘If you accept the pressure (of being No. 1) and do your best every day, good things will happen,’” Ahn said. “I also practiced a lot, so my confidence grew. I will show my badminton like a world number one,” she said.
Ahn had to pack her bags in a hurry at her Asian Games debut in Jakarta-Palembang, where she lost in the round of 32 to Chen Yufei (25-China-3rd). Chen Yufei is from Hangzhou, so she’s sure to get some one-sided support from the Anbang fans this time around. “It doesn’t matter if I play in Chen Yufei’s hometown or wherever I play, as long as I enjoy myself and do what I want to do, I’m confident that I can get a good result,” said Ahn, who leads the head-to-head series 4-2 this year.안전놀이터
She will also be aiming for gold in the women’s doubles. Four-time international champions Kim So-young (31-Incheon International Airport) and Gong Hee-yong (27-Kookmin Bank) are ranked No. 3 in the world, while this year’s Indonesian Open champions Lee So-hee (29-Incheon International Airport) and Baek Hana (23-MG Savings Bank) are ranked even higher at No. 2. Women’s doubles coach Lee Kyung-won (43) said, “Our goal is to make the final among our players. We hope to do so not only at the Asian Games, but also at the Paris Olympics next year.”