Badminton star An Se-young chasing Olympic medal as ‘final piece of puzzle’

Korean badminton player An Se-young speaks during the national team media day at Jincheon National Training Center in Jincheon, North Chungcheong Province, June 25. Yonhap

Ranked No. 1 in the world in the women’s singles, Korean badminton star An Se-young has already accomplished a great deal at age 22. She is the reigning world champion and the Asian Games champion in her discipline.

All that’s missing in her glowing resume is an Olympic gold, and An said Tuesday she wants to complete her puzzle in Paris this summer.

“I think an Olympic medal is my final piece of the puzzle,” An said during the national team media day at the Jincheon National Training Center in 온라인카지노 Jincheon, 85 kilometers south of Seoul. “I will try to bring home a perfect puzzle. I will give this Olympics everything I have.”

She will enter her second career Olympic Games as a gold medal favorite, but her path to the top of the podium will likely have to go through Chen Yufei of China, world No. 2 and the reigning Olympic gold medalist.

An is 8-12 against Chen over their careers, with one of the losses coming in the quarterfinals of the previous Olympics in Tokyo.

However, in the gold medal match at last year’s Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, An defeated Chen in an epic three-setter despite suffering a knee injury during the first set.

The two rivals have met three times since the Asian Games — with Chen winning in November and then the two players splitting their two matches this month. An defeated Chen for the Singapore Open title on June 2, but Chen got her revenge one week later to win the Indonesia Open.

An, who has been battling lingering effects of her knee injury well into 2024, said she was glad to have met the Chinese veteran twice so close to the Olympics.

“It had been a while since we last met in a final, and she also told me she’d wanted to face me,” An said. “These matches were an opportunity for me to see how much speed I’d lost since my injury and how high my confidence level was. I was able to identify areas of my game that I need to improve and really simplify the whole process. I learned a lot.”

An, however, refused to single out Chen as her rival in Paris.

“I think every player I will take on, starting in the preliminary round, will be my rival,” An said. “Every match will be important.”

An said she has been forced to play matches in less-than-ideal physical condition following the Asian Games and she will only get better from here.

“I went through some difficult moments after I got hurt, but I’ve been very lucky to have the support of my coaches and teammates,” An said. “I’ve been trying to keep positive thoughts in my mind and give myself an encouraging pep talk. I’ve learned that I can change my mindset and my body with positive thinking and that it carries over into matches. I will try to stay on this course.”

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