Tokyo 2020 is on the horizon, and for Korean Para badminton legend Kim Jungjun, the wait of over a decade is promising to bear fruit. The most accomplished wheelchair singles player in the world is setting high targets for himself in Tokyo.
“I’m excited that Para badminton has been selected for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, I have waited for 12 years to be part of it,” he says. “I would like to win two medals there. If I win the gold medals, my family will be happy and my daughters will be proud to have me as their father.”
Kim has had mixed luck this year. While he continued to be an eminent presence at all three tournaments he played in – Turkey, Dubai and Canada – he lost to close rival Chan Ho Yuen twice in three of the singles finals.
It is an unfamiliar feeling for him, for Kim was unbeaten in his professional career until late last year, when Chan beat him at the Australia Para-Badminton International last November.
The Korean has resolved to work on his game in the run-up to Tokyo.
“I don’t see myself as someone who is talented in badminton but I train hard to play well,” said Kim. “I feel proud that my efforts are paying off. Looking ahead, I don’t want to get complacent and I want to learn more skills. In the past, I placed emphasis on power. However, I think smooth but strong hits and wrist flicks are important now, as well as the skill to move the wheelchair. I always try to keep in shape and work hard during training.”
Kim started playing internationally in 2012 after a workplace accident a few years before, and did well at his first event with three gold medals. Since then, there has been no looking back.
“I started playing badminton for rehabilitation work in 2007. When I first began playing badminton, it was for fun. It did a lot of good to my mental health so I began to play the sport seriously.
“My first tournament was at the Asia Championships in 2012. I won three golds in singles, doubles and mixed doubles in my first appearance at the tournament. As a member of the national team, my heart was content because the Korean emblem was on my chest. I felt that the achievement helped raise Korea’s international status. I have plenty of energy so I am okay to play three matches. Singles is harder to win so winning it means a lot more to me.
“Since I started playing badminton, I have always trained very hard and I will continue to work hard.”