`Losing to Hidayat in 2004 Olympic final still hurts`
Lucknow: It is not every day that one competes in the Olympics. It is an even rarer achievement to reach the final of an Olympic event. What if you lose?
South Korean shuttler Shon Seung-Mo suffered the same fate when he lost the men`s singles final of the Athens Olympics in 2004 to the winner and badminton legend Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia.
"Yes, the loss to Taufik was a tough one to take. To reach the final of the Olympics and not win it; it was a huge disappointment. Sometimes it still hurts but I got to live with it also. Importantly, I won the silver for my country," Shon, who also won a bronze medal at the 2003 World Championships, told IANS.
The 32-year-old is now the head coach of the Korean singles team and is here with his team participating in the Syed Modi International India Grand Prix Gold. Shon said that he idolised Indian badminton legend Prakash Padukone during his younger days.
"Prakash Padukone was one of the best players when I was a kid. I idolised him. I drew inspiration from him during my younger days," said Shon, who retired at the end of 2008 and started coaching in 2009.
"An ankle injury forced me to retire. Otherwise I might have played on for a couple or more years," said Shon, who is partially blind, after being hit in the eye by a shuttlecock in his youth.
His playing days also overlapped those of Indian national coach Pullela Gopichand. Both played only one match against each other during their respective careers where the Indian won in the decider at the Asian Badminton Championships in 2000.
"Yeah, Gopichand was a good player. He won the All England. He is now a good coach too."
Asked who in his opinion is the best player in the world, Shon said China`s Olympic champion Lin Dan leads the list.
"Lin Dan is the best I can think of. I have played several matches against him during my career. I have won just once out of them which I consider to be a huge achievement."
Who does he consider the best of the lot among the current Indian players?
"Saina (Nehwal) is good and is also a very sweet girl," he said, pointing towards a huge poster of the Indian badminton queen hanging inside the Babu Banarasi Das Indoor Stadium here.
"Among the men, I feel (Parupalli) Kashyap is also good. He played well in the London Olympics against World No.1 Lee Chong Wei."
Shon added that coaching in his country is a higher paying job than playing.
"Coaching has made me rich," he signed off.