Hwasan Gymnasium in Jeonju, North Jeolla Province, Korea, hosted the Badminton World Federation (BWF) World Senior Championships 2023 on Thursday. It was a mammoth tournament that attracted about 2,000 people, including BWF officials, international umpires, and accompanying families, in addition to more than 1,200 players from 45 countries around the world.
The tournament attracted not only enthusiasts but also legends who have shaped the world of badminton. Among them were Chung So-young and Chung Gil-soon, who won the women’s doubles gold medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, Lee Yong-dae (Yonex) and his men’s doubles partner at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, Kwon Seung-taek, a former national coach, and Kim Hyo-sung, the current manager of Jeonbuk Bank.
Also competing from overseas is Indonesian Tony Gunawan (USA), a men’s doubles gold medalist at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Former Thai international and former World No. 10 Boonsak Ponsana also participated.
The tournament, which was first held in Sofia, Bulgaria, in 2003, is now in its 11th year. It is a celebration of senior players from around the world who may be past their prime, but still love the game of badminton, ranging in age from 35 to 80+.
Senior players were especially excited to see their badminton idols in person. The stadium was packed to capacity when Beijing 2008 mixed doubles gold medalist Lee Yong-dae appeared for a fan signing event. Players enjoyed an hour with the legend, getting autographs and taking pictures with him.
Jeong So-young, director of the Jeonbuk Sports Association, and Sports TV commentators Ha Tae-kwon, a gold medalist in men’s doubles at the 2004 Athens Olympics, and Kim Dong-moon, a professor at Wonkwang University, also signed autographs. The community members who flew in from New Zealand were able to pose with the legends and leave with special memories.
“It was my first time at the World Senior Games, and I felt the passion of the participants was incredible,” said Lee Yong-dae. “Seeing the veterans from the past, such as Mr. Jeong So-young and my brother Yeon Sung, participating in the tournament made me think that when I retire, I would like to come to this tournament and try to win,” he smiled. 메이저사이트
“I hope that Korea will continue to host big international tournaments like this and that it will serve as a springboard for Korean badminton to develop further on the world stage,” he said. “I hope the tournament will go well until the end,” he added.
In the meantime, Jung So-young has been cruising through the tournament in the women’s doubles and mixed doubles. She and Jung Gil-soon are the defending champions, having won the title in Spain two years ago.
“In fact, there are many one-sided matches because the gap between the players’ backgrounds and those of their peers is so large,” said an official from the Korea Badminton Association. “However, the players are enjoying the tournament regardless of their performance,” he emphasized. The tournament will be held at Hwasan Gymnasium and Jeonju Indoor Badminton Center until the 17th.