January 14, 2001 22:49
She was leading 10-1 in the last third set of the Korea Opens Badminton women individual's final match against her all-time rival and world's number one Camilla Martin. But Kim Ji-hyun conceded 12 consecutive points and lost the championship 7-11 11-8 10-13. It was Kim's last match of a 17-year-long career of playing badminton, which she had started when she was ten years old.
Kim and Martin first met at the World's Junior Championships in Indonesia 14 years ago in 1987. At that time, Kim was an unknown young Korean who suddenly rose to stardom by defeating peer Martin to becoming the champion. But since then Kim always came second and remained hidden behind Martin's shadow who swept the world championships and also won the silver medal at the Sydney Olympics last year.
"I have some regrets but I feel relieved to leave the harsh competitive world of sports," said Kim. It was difficult to tell whether she was crying or laughing as she turned her back and left the court of the Halla Gymnasium Sunday.
Meanwhile, Korea's hopeful mixed doubles Kim Dong-moon and Ra Kyung-min overcame the disappointment at Sydney by defeating the Chinese pair, Zhang Jun and Gao Ling, in two straight sets (15-8, 15-11). Kim and Ra had lost to this Chinese team in the quarter finals at Sydney last year and they had to witness the Zhang and Gao win the gold medal. However, on Sunday the Korean duo turned the tables again and earned the championship title for the third consecutive year.
(From Jeju, Min Hak-soo, firstname.lastname@example.org)
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