Korea’s doubles icon Lee Yong Dae confirmed today during a press interaction that the ongoing Victor Korea Open 2016 would be his final international tournament. One of the widely-recognised greats of this era ever since his Mixed Doubles Olympic gold medal in 2008, Lee Yong Dae has had a richly rewarding career with multiple titles, establishing fruitful Men’s Doubles partnerships with Chung Jae Sung and then Yoo Yeon Seong. The Korean icon talks to BWF about his decision:
So is your decision to retire final? Don’t you want to play on until the end of the year?
The retirement is certain and I just want to take a break from badminton for a while. The paperwork for the retirement is being processed.
Are you sad at leaving badminton?
I have participated in many tournaments for many years. I want to take a break from all tournaments, and see what opportunities are available and take it from there. Some people have asked me about Tokyo 2020, but I’m not concerned about the next Olympics. I want to find another path in badminton.
Looking back, what are the happiest memories of your career?
I have a lot of happy memories from many events. As far as the Olympics is concerned, the biggest moment was winning the Mixed Doubles gold in Beijing.
I would say winning the last Yonex Open Japan, against Fu Haifeng/Zhang Nan… that match was so tight. It was probably our toughest win and the most memorable.
I feel most regretful about the last Olympics in Rio. I was way too tense and felt too much pressure from the public. Without that, I could probably have done a lot better.
I feel it would’ve been nice if I’d won the World Championships (2009) in India; that final was very close. Maybe my career would’ve been better if I’d won the World Championships.
I feel we could’ve done better in the Olympic Games and Asian Games. I’ve been playing for 14 years in the national team. I’m now carefully considering other career alternatives. The thing that excites me the most is that I’ll be relieved of all the pressure from the public to win. I know the fans love me; I will still be there in the field in some other capacity.