Posted September. 06, 2008 07:36,
Badminton star Lee Yong-dae, who became a national hero after winning a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics, was given the name Yong-dae (great figure)" by his parents.
Born in 1988, the year of the Seoul Summer Olympics, Lee is a household name in Korea, realizing his parents long-held dream.
He said, however, that he has a long way to go. Lee and partner Lee Hyo-jung took the mixed doubles gold in Beijing last month.
Over the last 15 days, he has never been busier in appearing on a variety of TV programs, giving interviews, kicking a ball at an opening ceremony, and modeling for a fashion magazine.
When told he was gorgeous when kicking a soccer ball at the ceremony, he laughed and said, I took that pose for photos after wondering which one will be photogenic. Doing a nice kick was not my first concern. His eyes were full of talent and charm, as seen in his impish wink at the gold medal ceremony in Beijing.
His frequent appearances on TV and other media have some worried over whether he is neglecting badminton. But he has different opinion.
I had to fight myself to get immersed in training, and I badly wanted to do things I couldnt do because of the Olympics. If I cannot enjoy this time, when can I do such things? I wanted to be free and have many memorable moments, he said.
Because of his tight schedule after becoming famous, Lee said he has had no time to do the things he wanted to after the Olympics.
I wanted to drink with my friends, go shopping and take a trip but I feel Im too busy to do anything. He said he can drink two bottles of soju, a traditional Korean liquor.
His frequent outside activities reflect his intent to draw more attention to badminton, a sport with low popularity in Korea.
This month, Lee has returned to the court. He joined the national team Wednesday at the gym of Samsung Electro-Mechanics in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province. Though training hard, he will not compete at the Taiwan Open and Japan Open at the end of this month.
His partner needs treatment for her back and shoulders, and he needs rest to recover from accumulated fatigue. He will participate, however, in the National Athletic Meet in South Jeolla Province in November and is preparing attend university.
Lees idol is Park Joo-bong, who won the mixed doubles silver at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics at age 32. Lee is expected to do bigger things given his young age, with many experts predicting he can play in three more Olympics.
I will continue to work hard and make every effort to prepare for my next goal, he said.