Badminton Life

Koreans Want to Add to Gold Medal Tally

South Korea are hoping to add to the five gold medals they have won in past Olympics when their players line up for the Beijing Games badminton competition, which starts on Saturday, August 9.

The Koreans have emerged as a real force in world badminton since the start of the year with their singles players Lee Hyun-il and Park Sung-hwan making an impact on the men's circuit.

Lee won the Korean Open in January while Park became Asian champion in Johor Bahru, Malaysia in April.

South Korean coach Kim Jong-soo said the 13-strong team, who will compete in all five disciplines, hope to return home with at least one gold medal.

"Around 2004, during the Athens Olympics, we were going through a transition phase. We have finished that stage now so it won't have an influence in how we perform in Beijing," said Kim.

"Now we are a strong and stable team. We are no longer in transition so I think that we are capable of winning at least one gold medal at these Games."

South Korea are tied with Indonesia for the second most gold medals since badminton was introduced as a medal sport at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain.

China has won eight gold medals in the Olympics to lead the standings and have high hopes of winning all five golds on offer at their home Olympics.

The Koreans, however, are determined to prevent them from doing so and can look back at their performance against China at May's Thomas Cup in Jakarta to give them confidence.

During the competition, the Koreans defeated hosts Indonesia on the way to the final, where they lost 3-1 to the top-seeded Chinese.

Despite that defeat, they managed to provide the Chinese with an almighty scare, while players such as Lee and Park emerged as genuine world-class talents.

South Korea's traditional strength, though, has been in men's doubles and this is probably their best chance of a gold medal in Beijing.

Still, Kim said China remain the favourites to win most of the vents. He said: "The Chinese team has their advantage because the Olympics is held in Beijing. Naturally, we will focus on the Chinese team and do more preparation."

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