Badminton Life

Koreans Pack Powerful Doubles Punch

When badminton fans talk about Korea, they immediately think about men's doubles. Indeed, Korea have a long history of producing world-beating combinations.

In the 90s, it was Park Joo-bong and Kim Moon-soo. They were followed by 2004 Olympic champions Ha Tae-kwon and Kim Dong-moon, as well as Lee Dong-soo and Yoo Yong-sung, the Athens runners-up.

However, after the Athens Games, the Koreans suffered a lean spell on the men's doubles front. The titles dried up and they were struggling to produce a genuine pairing.

But 2008 could be the year Korea return to the top of the men's doubles rung with the amazing rise of their newest pair Jung Jae-sung and Lee Yong-dae.

The duo have already won the All England title, Swiss Open and the Asian Championship crown. And they are not alone with Hwang Ji-man and Lee Jae-jin finishing runners-up at the All England and putting in some solid performances in other tournaments.

The Koreans are now hoping that their doubles pairings, together with emerging singles players, can help their country to glory at the Thomas Cup.

Park Sung-hwan is their leading singles player, having won the recent Asian Championship title while Lee Hyun-il proved that he has what it takes in the big tournaments when he beat China's world number one Lin Dan in the Korean Open final in January.

In singles, they have arguably the second-best line-up in the tournament behind defending champions China.

And in doubles, they are certainly among the best teams in the tournament, though Malaysia can also claim to have a strong line-up.

One person who believes the Koreans can be beaten in doubles is Malaysian doubles coach Rexy Manaiky, who is a former doubles specialist himself when he represented Indonesia in the 90s.

"The Koreans only registered two doubles pairs while we have three and can have more options," he said.

Malaysia will face Korea in Goup B in a match that could decide the group winners. Choong Tan Fook and Lee Wan Wah are their top pair followed by former All England winners Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong.

In singles, they have the world number two Lee Chong Wei, with Wong Choong Hann providing strong back-up.

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