PBL 2020: Lee Yong Dae wants to win another Olympic medal

South Korean badminton superstar Lee Yong Dae currently plays for the North Eastern Warriors in PBL-5 and he opened up to Sportstar in a chat.

Lee Yong Dae (R) poses with his partner Kim Gi Jung after winning the men's doubles title at the 2020 Malaysia Masters.   -  Mohd Rasfan

Twelve years after he won the badminton gold in mixed doubles at the 2008 Beijing Olympics with Lee Hyo Jung and eight years after picking up a bronze in men’s doubles at the 2012 London Olympics with Jung Jae Sung, South Korea's Lee Yong Dae’s life has experienced a few twists and turns.

Lee announced his retirement sometime in 2016 before finding the urge to come back towards the end of next year. Early this month, Lee achieved a breakthrough when he won the Malaysia Masters men's doubles title with Kim Gi Jung.

READ | Rivals on court, pals off it: Lakshya Sen and Priyanshu Rajawat

Lee, who had reached world number one ranking with four different partners: Jae Sung, Ko Sung Hyun and Yoo Yeon Seong in men's doubles, and Hyo Jung in mixed doubles, is eager to win an Olympic medal again with Gi Jung.

Here in Chennai for Premier Badminton League (PBL) season five where he plays for North Eastern Warriors, Lee, 31, spoke to Sportstar on his comeback and a host of other issues.

Why did you retire from the sport at just 28?

For close to 10 years, I have been part of the National Team and played every competition but there came a point when it was so stressful that I couldn't take it anymore. Because of the pressure, I was unable to meet or spend time with my family as well and this led to my decision to hang my boots.

Your thoughts on the successful partnership with Yeon Seong, with whom you were world number 1 in men's doubles for 117 consecutive weeks?

Yeah, people have congratulated us but I didn’t know until a few months back there was a record of longest consecutive weeks…until someone told me recently. I am not that kind of a person who looks for their own records, I just love enjoying the game and love going on court. But now that I know, it feels good to know that I am part of such record.

What made you come back to the sport after retiring in 2016?

Post my retirement the game continued to fascinate me and I started enjoying it back slowly and decided to make a comeback as I wanted to win yet another Olympics medal and this thought convinced me to break from my retirement and make a comeback.

How was winning the Malaysian Masters (with Gi Jung) in 2020? Did you ever think that you could pull it off?

It feels great. It is still been some time that both of us are playing together but it was good fun and gives us a lot of confidence. Last year I was recovering from a hip injury and wasn’t at my 100% but currently, I am in the right zone and winning the Malaysian Masters is just about everything clicking at the right time.

How, when and why did your new partnership with Gi Jung begin?

We know each other for long and both of us complement each other’s playing style. These are initial days but I think we can make it if we keep playing the way we have been in the past few months, though now is the time when I am thinking how I can beat him (Kim plays for Mumbai Rockets) and his partners in Premier Badminton League (breaks into a laughter).

How long you want to continue playing?

Haha…I have just started and will continue to play at least 7 years if not more!

Your thoughts on playing for NE Warriors in PBL-5?

My partner who played for NE Warriors last year showed me pictures of the place and they are beautiful. We have a good team as well and quite a few Indian youngsters, I have been talking with them a lot, I think this is what is great that here in the League they can ask us as many questions and we train together and discuss a lot.

  Dugout videos