Badminton team aim for gold in every event at Games
Korea will contest all five badminton events at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as the national team looks to reclaim its former glory on the court.
In the women's events, An Se-young and Kim Ga-eun will compete in the single event while two pairs — Lee So-hee and Shin Seung-chan and Kim So-yeong and Kong Hee-young — will compete in the doubles.
For the men, Heo Kwang-hee will compete in the single event and Choi Sol-gyu and Seo Seung-jae will compete in the doubles event.
Mixed doubles pair Seo Seung-jae and Chae Yoo-jung round off Korea's 10-person team.
Korea is one of only nine countries competing in all five badminton events in Tokyo, alongside Canada, China, Denmark, Great Britain, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Netherlands. Korea is the third-highest ranking team in terms of total Olympic medals, after China and Indonesia.
Each country can enter a maximum of two athletes in the men’s and women’s singles event if both are ranked within the top 16 in the Badminton World Federation (BWF)’s "Race to Tokyo" ranking.
The rank cutoff date was originally June 15, as three BWF tournaments were scheduled to run through May and June.
However, the BWF announced on Friday that all three tournaments — the India Open, originally scheduled from May 11 to 16 in New Delhi, India, the Malaysia Open, scheduled from May 25 to 30 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and the Singapore Open scheduled to start today in Singapore — are cancelled and no further tournaments will be played inside the qualifying window.
With the three tournaments canceled, world No. 16 Sung Ji-hyun misses out on her chance to compete in Tokyo as she ranks below Kim on the "Road to Tokyo" ranking, despite ranking above her in the world ranking.
Usually the Olympic qualifier ranking and the world ranking are identical, but the postponement of the Games and rescheduling of tournaments caused the two to differ.
Nineteen-year-old An ranks highest in the Korean women’s single squad, as she sits at eighth on both the world and "Race to Tokyo" ranking.
An joined the national team in 2017 at the age of 15 after winning every single game at the national team qualifiers, the first person to sweep the event. She was also awarded the Most Promising Player of the Year award by BWF in 2019.
For the doubles event, two pairs can qualify for each country if both are ranked in the top eight. Choi and Seo rank seventh for men's doubles and the two women's doubles pairs rank fourth and fifth. Seo and Chae rank sixth for mixed doubles.
Korea currently ranks sixth on the BWF World Team Rankings after China, Japan, Indonesia, Thailand and Taipei.
Korea has six gold medals in badminton, making it the country's sixth-most successful Olympic sport, after archery, taekwondo, judo, wrestling and shooting. Despite that success, Korea struggled at the 2016 Rio Olympics, winning only one bronze medal in the event.
At the Tokyo Games, the badminton events run from July 24 to Aug 2.
The preliminaries start on July 24, gold medal matches follow on July 29 and the event ends on Aug. 2.
BY YUN SO-HYANG [firstname.lastname@example.org]