PETALING JAYA: Winning eight titles over the course of a year was still not enough to save South Korea’s Ko Sung-hyun-Lee Yong-dae from being split up.
Sung-hyun-Yong-dae made their debut as a pair at the Denmark Open last year and are currently the top ranked pair in the world.
But they have struggled notably against the likes of Indonesia’s Mohd Ahsan-Hendra Setiawan and China’s Liu Xiaolong-Qiu Zihan, losing to both pairs three times this year.
They were also sensationally beaten by Taiwan’s Lee Sheng-mu-Tsai Chia-hsin in the second round of the World Championships in August.
That proved to be the last straw and although Sung-hyun-Yong-dae won the China Masters last month, it proved to be their last outing as a pair.
Yong-dae will now partner Yoo Yeon-seong while Sung-hyun will team up with Shin Baek-cheol. Both pairs will make their debut at the Denmark Open from Oct 15-20.
And Badminton Korea Association (BKA) head of sports science and international relations Dr Greg Kim Hong-gi explained that the split was made in order to have the strongest possible pairing for the Asian Games in Incheon next year.
“The rationale behind splitting Yong-dae and Sung-hyun was simply that they were not performing well enough,” said Dr Kim.
“They may have won the China Masters but they have also lost quite a few other tournaments this year.
“If we look at their losing record, it was mostly against the same pairs from Indonesia, China and then Taiwan at the World Championships.
“We have tried to help their partnership but even with the assistance of sports psychologists, it’s not really working. It was better to split them now before they became worse.
“Furthermore, we are doing this in light of the Asian Games next year, which is really important to us.
“This is all an experimental process and we’re giving it six months to a year for the new pairings to work out.
“Of course, if Yong-dae-Yeon-seong do not quite achieve results, it’s not impossible to bring back Yong-dae-Sung-hyun as a pair,” he added.
Besides the Sung-hyun-Yong-dae split, another high profile partnership that has come to an end is China’s Cai Yun-Fu Haifeng.
The Olympic champions and also four-time world champions’ partnership was ended last month as they were deemed too old to continue playing as a pair.
Cai Yun will now partner Chai Biao while Fu-Haifeng will team up with Hong Wei. Both pairs will also compete in the Danish meet.
While top nations like China and South Korea have had no problems splitting their pairs, Malaysia bucks the trend. It really baffles many that Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong remain status quo despite a severe dip in form over the past two years.