Lee Yong Dae according to many is the best thing that has happened to badminton. He started playing at the young age of 8 and at age 15 was part of the South Korean National team. He went on to win an Olympic gold medal at the age of 20. Excerpts from the interview:
Q. Are you happy at winning the doubles title here at the Tata Open Challenge?
Yes, me and Ko are both very happy with the win.
Q. You are considered as a legendary player in badminton. How comfortable are you playing small tournaments like these?
Thank you for calling me a legendary player first of all. I’m a player and for me every tournament holds great importance. There is nothing such as small or big tournament; as you climb the ladder, every step is important.
Q. Were you satisfied with the bronze medal this year at the Olympics, considering you guys were favorites being World No. 1?
We were a little disheartened when we lost in the semis as we wanted to end the tournament with the gold but we were very happy to get the bronze too.
Q. How is your new partnership with Ko Sung Heun coming along?
Ko and I have good compatibility on court. We have been temporary partners before too, in 2011, and have won the US Open, so we knew each other’s strength and weaknesses. We won the French Open recently too. We are working hard together and hope to win all the tournaments we participate in.
Q. Do you miss playing with Jung Jae Sung ?
Yes, of course. We had an incredible journey together and my relationship with him has helped me grow personally and professionally.
Q. You were the youngest gold medal winner in the mixed doubles category (partnering Lee Hyun) in the Beijing Olympics. How did things change after that?
It was a great feeling to have won the most coveted medal when I was only 20. Also, I really wanted to win there as I had lost in the first round of the men’s doubles earlier and I was really disappointed. Thankfully I didn’t let that get into my head in a negative manner. The victory instilled lot of faith in me and groomed me a lot. Also, I became very famous (laughs).
Q. What message would you like to give to youngsters all over the world?
Well, I’m young myself (laughs). But my message would be: hard work, dedication and will power are very important if you want to play the game.