Wednesday, August 2, 2017
TEXT BY DEV SUKUMAR | BADMINTONPHOTO
There will be plenty of attention on Son Wan Ho as the new World No.1 prepares to make an impact at the TOTAL BWF World Championships.
The Korean, who spearheaded his country’s victorious campaign at the TOTAL BWF Sudirman Cup in May, cannot escape scrutiny as the World Championships enters its home stretch. Son acknowledges that a good performance in Glasgow is his priority for the year.
“My goal for this year is to achieve better results, than before, in the World Championships. It is certainly my target for this year,” Son said in an interview with Badminton Unlimited.
“This is the first time I’ve been ranked No.1 in the world. I’m obviously very happy and excited about it. It is something that’s not easy to achieve, to be the best in the field and it was a great feeling when it happened.”
Son has never made it past the quarter-finals of past World Championships. As the current No.1, the Korean will be expected to challenge for the gold. But Son also carries the image of someone who has only rarely come good on the big occasion. The past season was illustrative of this – Son made three World Superseries finals against less fancied players, but lost all three. It’s an image that he has worked hard to correct.
“I’ve competed in many matches and at many tournaments but not a lot of them ended with the results I wanted,” he says. “It can be very disappointing and disheartening. But from last year onwards, the results started to come in. My performance got better especially so after the Olympics. That gave me more confidence. And of course wanting to achieve more definitely drives me to further better my game.”
Son insists that he has come a long way in terms of his mental attitude:
“I would get very nervous and felt a lot more pressure in my early years. I was not sure how to cope with it as I didn’t have much experience then. As my career developed and I played more, I naturally gained more experience and I know how to deal with situations on court. I began to adjust to playing on different courts or arenas and have learnt how to adapt to different environments.
“I was then able to cope with the pressure and knew how to prepare for all situations. With experience under my belt, I started to feel more comfortable and began to enjoy my matches a little more. It is still a learning process for me as it’s still not easy taking all the pressure off my back but I have learnt how to deal with it.”
No Korean has ever won the Men’s Singles title at the World Championships – if Son Wan Ho can play to his full potential, he could well defy history!