BIRMINGHAM: South Korea were struck a hard blow when the Badminton World Federation (BWF) slapped Lee Yong-dae and Kim Ki-jung with a one-year suspension for failing to file their whereabouts which led to missed dope tests.
With the Asian Games to be held in Incheon, South Korea, in September, it was definitely a big blow.
Especially with Yong-dae being a favourite to deliver a gold medal.
But Lee Dong-keun has given the Koreans a glimpse of hope with a solid string of displays at the ongoing All-England.
The 23-year-old Dong-keun who came through the qualifiers of the men’s singles, pulled off a superb upset in beating world championship semi-finalist Nguyen Tien Minh of Vietnam in the first round.
The 17-21, 21-16, 21-16 win was the cheerful Dong-keun’s best showing at the All-England and he is confident of stepping up for the team when the time comes.
“It was so tiring to face Tien Minh … I really had to fight hard for the win,” said Dong-keun.
“It’s sad that South Korea may not have Yong-dae for the Asian Games. But I am ready to give my best and fight hard.
“Besides, in singles, we are making progress, too. There is (Son) Wan-ho and me in the senior team, and we have several promising juniors coming up.
“So, even though we are weaker in the singles apart from Lee Hyun-il, I believe we are on the right track,” added Dong-keun, who will face Japan veteran Sho Sasaki in the second round.
Apart from Dong-keun, the Koreans also have in their ranks Heo Kwang-hee, who is the reigning world junior champion, and Jeon Hyuk-jin, who made the final of the Asian Juniors last year.
Meanwhile, there was more Korean joy at the All-England as world No. 13 Wan-ho surprisingly made light work of world No. 4 Jan O Jorgensen in the first round.
Wan-ho, who has made an impressive return to competition following a year of military service, won 21-8, 21-18.
He will face either Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka of Indonesia or Dutch journeyman Eric Pang for a place in the quarter-finals.