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“How Did We Lose?”

Posted September. 08, 2004 21:54,   


Some said they were certain to win the gold medal. No one doubted their victory as they won 70 consecutive matches, winning the top place in 14 tournaments, just before the Athens Olympic Games. Ra Kyung-min of Daekyo Noonnoppi and Kim Dong-moon of Samsung Electro-Mechanics, who together was rated as the strongest team ever in mixed doubles since the first shuttlecock flew, seemed flawlessly prepped for the Olympics.

Ambushed by Denmark-

However, Kim-Ra pair ran into an unexpected obstacle in the quarterfinal. They were defeated by Rasmussen and Olsen of Denmark.

“I don’t even know how we lost.” Ra Kyung-min (28) seemed to be still in shock after their defeat in the quarterfinals at the Daekyo Noonnoppi Badminton Team’s dorm in Kwanjang-dong, Seoul. “I would appreciate it if there will be no more questions. I have nothing to comment on and there are no plans at the moment.”

Ra Kyung-min meant to take off all of her burdens and get on with a break once the Athens Olympics were over. She planned to sleep in as long as she pleased, eat whatever she wanted, and go wherever she desired. However, after letting the gold that was certain to be worn around their necks slip right through their fingers, Ra could not attempt to do any of these things. It was as if her soul had been sucked into a vacuum.

She joined the Noonnoppi team on September 6 to play at the 2004 National Autumn Championship that opens on September 10, conceding to the team’s head coach, Suh Myung-won’s persuasion, but she is still reluctant to get back on the court.

“What ever can I do now?” The powerlessness that Ra was feeling was much worse than expected. She surprised everyone when she said she would quit badminton and her work at the graduate school of Korea National Sport University for her doctorate degree when she came back home after the Olympics. Fortunately, Coach Suh talked her into playing for a couple more years, but it seems no less difficult to start off fresh.

“The same thing happened when we lost in the quarterfinals at the Sydney Olympic four years ago. We never expected to lose and my mind went blank during and after the game. I think I just didn’t know how to lose. That is probably why I’m still so out of it.”

Her future plans will come after finding out the reason for the defeat.

After her debut in mixed doubles right before the 1996 Atlanta Olympic, Ra only lost five matches in international settings while teaming up with Park Joo-bong and then Kim Dong-moon. Two of their most shocking defeats came in the quarterfinals of the last two Olympics.

As a faithful Buddhist, Ra does not have a special jinx. The only thing close is that she sometimes has dreams the night before a big match. She dreamt again on the night before the quarterfinals, but there was nothing really different about that night compared to any other night.

For that, Ra is even more confused. There was no reason to lose. Ra now has to decide whether to quit the national team or to take one more shots at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. She says, “I will find strength to grip the racquet only after I find answers as to why I lost.”

“Aren’t you tempted to just break the racquet in half on the spot after such an absurd defeat?” she was asked. “Why would I want to break my precious racquet? I never had such a thought, and I never will,” she replied.

Her racquet that has been with her ever since fourth grade is still her companion and hope. In another four years, it is our hope to witness her gathering back up her strength to go for the gold in Beijing.

Sang-Ho Kim hyangsan@donga.com