Kim and Kong’s impressive victory at this year’s All England won them a whole lot of new fans. Having witnessed their performances for three days in a row I was enthralled by the dynamic energy they brought to the arena and their sheer will to win.
Before the pandemic they were recognized by the BWF as 2019’s Most Improved Players. Since then, they have been steadily building their reputation as one of the best pairs in the world without always dominating their sector. Nevertheless, they won the 2021 World Tour Finals and got Silver at the 2022 World Championships.
Since watching their magnificent quarter final against the top seeds – CHEN/JIA – I have become a keen fan of their brand of WD. I did not have high expectations for the sixth seeds going into the game. Though they competed well in the first set they ultimately lost it 21-19 and found themselves in a 0-5 hole in the second. They seemed down and out. Yet in an extraordinary sequence they defied the Chinese duo, summoned up their self-belief and started to shift the momentum of the game in their favour.
Both Gill Clark and Steen Schleicher noted KONG’s backhand and net play have been upgraded in the last year. She was playing shots with plenty of ambition, not only in the front court but also exploiting spaces that appeared at the back with confidence and precision. This had a big impact on the progress of the contest (and the subsequent two matches) because it opened up more chances to attack. On the sixth match point in the third set the Korean pair finally secured their win. In my view, it was the standout tie of the tournament.
They carried this winning attitude right through the rest of the competition. In the semi-final ZHANG/ZHENG were beaten in straight sets on the fourth match point. In the final they completely overwhelmed their compatriots BAEK/LEE to become the All England Champions 2023.
KIM and KONG already have an Olympic Bronze, making it tempting to consider their chances at the upcoming Paris Olympics for a shot at Gold. With a nimble approach to tactics, resilience, and a determination to win they can plan for a deep dive into the Olympic draw. Undoubtedly, they are strong contenders, and it will be exciting to see how their journey unfolds towards the 2024 Olympics.
If you enjoyed this take a look at BadmintonBites piece about KIM/KONG https://badmintonbites.com/kim-so-yeong-and-kong-hee-yong-one-of-badmintons-fastest-rising-pairs/
This link will take you to my recent article about AN Se Young https://womensbadminton.co.uk/2023/03/03/an-se-young/
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