GENTING HIGHLANDS: Doubles specialist Lee Yong-dae (pic) could make a sensational return to the South Korea national team.
The 28-year-old has been competing in professional leagues abroad, including playing for Muar BC in the SS Purple League here, since retiring from international badminton last September.
While enjoying a pressure-free life away from the national team, with whom he spent 13 years, Yong-dae has refused to rule out the possibility of representing his country again.
In fact, he is considering making a comeback next year to play in the Asian Games in Jakarta.
“I’m now on a one-year break from international badminton ... after that, we’ll see,” said Yong-dae after partnering Mohd Arif Latif to beat Puchong United BC’s Lim Khim Wah-Tan Chee Tean on Friday.
“I still love the sport and really can’t go a day without taking to the court. That’s why I went to play in India, Indonesia, China ... and now here in Malaysia.
“After this, I’ll return home to play for the Yonex Badminton Team in the domestic league (in March). I’ll also try to spend as much time as I can with my family.
“I’m still not sure about my plan for the coming years. But if everything goes well, I’d like to try get back into the national team and play for another three years ... for the Asian Games and maybe the Olympics (Tokyo 2020).”
Yong-dae shot to stardom when he won the mixed doubles gold with Lee Hyo-jung at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He then went on to dominate men’s doubles in world badminton with two other partners – Jung Jae-sung and Yoo Yeon-seong.
He has won a total of 43 Superseries titles, including 37 in men’s doubles.
The only major glory to have eluded Yong-dae was the World Championships, where he finished runners-up three times.
Yong-dae will marry his long-time girlfriend – actress Byun Soo-mi – later this year. The couple is expecting a baby girl in June.