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Anaheim is the Promised Land to Lee Hyun-il

Posted August. 17, 2005 06:27,   


California’s Anaheim in the U.S. is famous for its Disneyland. Many tourists all over the world visit this place with excitement. Korea’s male badminton star Lee Hyun-il (picture) was not an exception.

Lee’s first international title was won in the 2001 US Open Badminton Championships, which was held in Anaheim.

Four years have passed since then, and Lee will be competing in the 14th World Championships which starts on August 16. This match is to be held in Anaheim, the very place where his merry memories of the past still linger.

Lee, the 13th seed, won against Norway’s Jim Ronny Andersen, 42nd in the world rankings, in just 21 minutes at the first round of the men’s singles. Andersen was expected to be a somewhat tough opponent, but Lee defeated him, 2-0 (15-3, 15-7). Following the first round, the score went up to 9-0 in the second round, an indicator of an easy win.

Lee is ambidextrous. He uses his left hand to swing the racket and his right hand to write or hold chopsticks. After the game, Lee said, “The wind was stronger than I thought, so I targeted my shots about one meter more to the left and right, which gave good results. My first match has started with a smooth flow, and I will play harder for the medal.”

Lee first joined the national team during his second year at Seoul Physical Education High School. However, he went through a serious slump after failing in the round of 16 in the 2004 Athens Olympics. He did not even go near the racket for three months, but after his four weeks of military training last December following a special exemption from military service, he braced himself. He made a triumphant return to the court, winning the bronze in both the Swiss Open and the Singapore Open.

Meanwhile, Hwang Hye-youn, 43rd in the world rankings, lost to Thailand’s Ponsana Salakjit, ranked 13th, 0-2 (7-11, 1-11) in the first round of the women’s singles.

Jong-Seok Kim kjs0123@donga.com