An Se-Young Eyes Olympic Gold

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An Se-Young is chasing the Paris Olympic gold medal. (Photo: AFP)
An Se-Young is chasing the Paris Olympic gold medal. (Photo: AFP)

Seoul: Ranked No. 1 in the world in women’s singles, Korean badminton star An Se-Young, at just 22 years old, has already achieved remarkable success. She holds the titles of reigning world champion and Asian Games champion. However, the elusive Olympic gold medal remains the final piece missing from her impressive resume. An expressed her desire to complete this puzzle in Paris this summer, stating, “I think an Olympic medal is my final piece of the puzzle. I will try to bring home a perfect puzzle. I will give this Olympics everything I have.”

Entering her second Olympic Games and as a strong gold medal contender, An’s path to the top in Paris will likely involve overcoming Chen Yufei of China, the current world No. 2 and reigning Olympic gold medalist. Historically, An has struggled against Chen, with an 8-12 record, including a loss in the quarterfinals of the Tokyo Olympics. Despite this, An demonstrated resilience and skill by defeating Chen in a thrilling three-set match at the Asian Games last year, even while playing with a knee injury sustained during that match.

The rivalry between An and Chen has continued to intensify, with the two meeting three times since the Asian Games. An secured the Singapore Open title by defeating Chen on June 2, but Chen exacted revenge a week later at the Indonesia Open. Reflecting on these encounters, An appreciated the opportunity to gauge her speed and confidence post-injury. She noted that these matches highlighted areas for improvement and simplified her strategic approach, ultimately boosting her preparedness for the Olympics.

An refused to single out Chen as her sole rival in Paris, emphasizing that every opponent would be a challenge from the preliminary rounds onwards. “Every match will be important,” she stated. Her determination to focus on each match highlights her comprehensive approach to the competition.

An’s journey to the Olympics has been marked by overcoming physical challenges. Since her knee injury at the Asian Games, she has played in less-than-ideal conditions but has gradually regained her form. An credits her coaches and teammates for their unwavering support, which has been crucial in maintaining her positive mindset. “I’ve been trying to keep positive thoughts in my mind and give myself an encouraging pep talk,” she said, acknowledging the power of positive thinking in transforming both her mental and physical state.

As she heads to Paris, An Se-young’s focus and determination are stronger than ever. With the goal of securing an Olympic medal and completing her career puzzle, she remains committed to giving her best performance. Her journey to this point, marked by resilience and growth, sets the stage for a potentially historic achievement in the world of badminton.

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