PETALING JAYA: South Korean youngster An Se-young continued to break barriers and this time, she ended the country’s 27-year wait for the All-England women’s singles crown in Birmingham.
Se-Young, 21, emulated South Korean legend Bang So-hyun’s success in the event in 1996 by overcoming China’s Olympic champion Chen Yu-fei 21-17, 10-21, 21-19 in a 75-minute final.
The victory confirmed Se-young, the world No. 2, as one of the main contenders for the Paris Olympics next year where she will be trying to achieve another feat of Soo-hyun who was the last Korean to win the Olympics gold (Atlanta, 1996).
“I was surprised because I felt my body was heavy but I thought I should endure the moment and seize the opportunity,” said Se-young of her success.
“I wanted to have fun and play confidently. I still cannot believe what happened. It’s giving me the chills.”
It was Se-young’s third title, following her victories in the Malaysian Masters and India Open in January, in five finals this year.
Men’s singles also saw shockwaves as rising star Li Shifeng chose the right event to demonstrate his immense talent when he downed his senior Shi Yuqi 26-24, 21-5 in 50 minutes.
It was debutant Shifeng’s first major crown while Yuqi, the 2018 winner, conceded that he just could not cope with his 23-year-old compatriot in the second game.
There was also a deserving first for men’s doubles when world No. 1 Fajar Alfian-Rian Ardianto were crowned champions after beating veterans Mohammad Ahsan-Hendra Setiawan 21-17 21-14 in an all-Indonesian final.
Ahsan received applause for his sportsmanship as he decided to complete the final despite suffering a left knee injury while trailing 14-19 in the second game.
Men’s singles: Li Shifeng (Chn) bt Shi Yuqi (Chn) 26-24, 21-5.
Men’s doubles: Fajar Alfian-Rian Ardianto (Ina) bt Mohammad Ahsan-Hendra Setiawan (Ina) 21-17 21-14.
Women’s singles: An Se-young (Kor) bt Chen Yufei (Chn) 21-17, 10-21, 21-19.
Women’s doubles: Kim So-yeong-Kong hee-yong (Kor) bt Baek Ha-na-Lee So-hee (Kor) 21-5, 21-12.
Mixed doubles: Zheng Siwei-Huang Yaqiong (Chn) bt Seo Seung-jae-Chae Yujung (Kor) 21-16, 16-21, 21-12.