South Korean Lee Hyo-jung Adjusting to Fame
South Korean mixed doubles gold medallist is learning to live with the fame, and the hassle, that comes with being an Olympic champion.
|She and her partner Lee Yong-dae, dubbed by the Korea media as the "winking prince", won the mixed doubles title at the Beijing Olympics earlier this month and are now one of the most famous pairs in the country. |
Hyo-jung, while being admired, is also the target of envy by some South Korean women enamored by her partner. However, she is happy as long as the fame helps to raise the profile of her sport.
"I returned [to Korea] on Monday to find Yong-dae a superstar," she was quoted as saying in the Korean media.
"Some ladies might dislike me just because I am his partner. I don't care. This will also help people know more about badminton. That's all I care about."
She has also had so many phone calls of congratulations that her mobile phone has faded on her.
"Too many phone calls made the battery die," said the 27-year-old.
The tall and lanky 181-centimetre player, though coming across as confident and unshakeable, has gone through a difficult time over the past decades.
Her father suffered a car accident 10 years ago and has since been receiving treatment. In addition, her family is not financially well off.
She has overcome these personal problems, which has helped to strengthen her resolve in winning Olympic gold.
However, her dream of gold in the women's doubles vanished after she made a series of errors against their Chinese opponents in the final in Beijing.
She partnered Lee Kyung-won were favourites going into the final, but she could hardly do anything right.
Her task wasn't made any easier with her partner having to receive on-court treatment for an ankle injury.
So much so that 1996 Korean mixed doubles gold medallist Gil Young-ah commented: "She seems to have gone there to ruin the game. I didn't get it."
Hyo-jung said the women's doubles loss was hard to take.
"I wanted a medal more in the women's doubles," she was quoted as saying. "I was pretty confident. In the March British Open, we defeated the Chinese team three times, and advanced to the final."
"Looking at my partner's best performance despite the injury, I thought I should do more. That was why I ruined my part."
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