There are as many ways to make your mark on badminton as there are badminton shots. You can win an Olympic Gold medal or World Championship. You can bag gold at the prestigious and always-competitive All England or win a Bangkok Hat-trick at the World Tour like Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai. Another way is to take your three-digit ranking and break into the top ten rankings in less than two years — just like South Korea’s An Se-Young!
An Se Young is one of South Korea’s top-rising talents. At age 16, she became the youngest member to join the South Korean National Badminton Team (Badminton Korea). Her style of play and skills on the court were instrumental to the team in 2018 as she helped South Korea win an Uber Cup bronze medal in Bangkok. In just a few years, An Se-Young bagged 12 World Tour titles and one International Series title. Her stellar debut — coupled with her junior
accomplishments — enabled her to win the Badminton World Federation’s (BWF) Most Promising Player of 2019 Award. She also won the Rookie of the Year Award and Coca-Cola Sports Award in her home country. Her later accomplishments gave her more than enough points in the World Standings to break into the top ten rankings in less than two years!
An Se Young is definitely a young talent to keep your eyes on. Check out how this rising star is taking the women’s singles division by storm in my latest edition of Player Profile!
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An Se Young was born on February 5, 2002, in Gwangju, South Korea. Picking up badminton early, she began playing competitively at just six years old. She represented her elementary school, Pungam Elementary, in local inter-school tournaments, winning most of them.
She continued playing recreationally and competitively through middle school. In her junior high years, she caught the attention of many coaches on the South Korean national team. As a result, An Se Young joined the national team and became its youngest member.
Early Junior Achievements
An Se Young took her early steps on the international stage in 2015. As a junior high school student, she debuted at the 2015 Badminton Asia Junior Championships in Kudus, Indonesia. In her debut, she advanced as far as the quarterfinal, losing to Yasnita Setiawan.
A month later, An Se Young competed at the 2015 Korea Junior Open Badminton Championships in her hometown of Gwangju. At the tournament, she played in the girl’s doubles and singles events.
In the girl’s singles event, she breezed through the competition to reach the finals. Defeating Indonesia’s Nita Violina Marwah, she won her first junior title — in her own hometown!
A year later, An Se Young competed as a singles and doubles player again at the 2016 Jakarta Open Junior International. In the girl’s doubles event, she reached the finals with her partner, Ye Lim Yoon. Unfortunately, the pair lost, meaning they had to settle for the runner-up position.
The girl’s singles event was a different story as An Se Young dominated the event to reach the finals. There, she faced her compatriot Lee So Yul. In straight sets, she made short work of her compatriot to win her second junior title.
An Se Young’s 2016 medal haul didn’t stop there. At the 2016 Junior Grand Prix, she competed in the girl’s singles and doubles events. She captivated onlookers by winning both events, making herself a double-crown champion for the first time.
Weeks after her double-title victory, An Se Young sought to redeem herself at the Badminton Asia Junior Championships. At the 2016 Badminton Asia Junior Championships, she bagged a runner-up finish in the girl’s doubles event and her first Badminton Asia Junior Championship title in the girl’s singles event.
A month later, An Se Young competed at the 2016 Korea Junior Open Badminton Championship. Not only was it her second time at the tournament — it was also where she won her second double-title victory as a junior player!
In 2017, she set out to defend her Korea Junior Open Badminton title. Advancing to the finals of the 2017 Korea Junior Badminton Championships, she faced Indonesia’s Putri Kusuma Wardani. In straight sets, An Se Young made short work of her opponent to defend her girl’s singles title.
In total, An Se Young won eight titles and several runner-up finishes in her junior career. If that’s not what you’d call a stellar start to a badminton career, I don’t know what is!
Because of her performances in the junior circuit, it wasn’t long before An Se-Young progressed to her senior career despite only being 16 years old!
An Se-Young’s Early Senior Badminton Career
Despite her young age, An Se-Young kicked off her senior badminton career in 2018. She debuted as a senior player at the 2018 Osaka International Challenge. There, she failed to advance past the round of 16 stages, losing narrowly to Japan’s Yukino Nakai.
The loss did little to deter An Se-Young as she went to play in her first Asian Games event. At the 2018 Asian Games, she faced China’s Chen Yu Fei in the round of 32 stages. Chen dominated the match, resulting in An bowing out of the competition early.
With back-to-back losses in her debut year, An Se-Young was hungry for her first title. Her chance at her first title came at the 2018 Indonesia International. Unlike in her first tournaments, she advanced to the finals dominantly after defeating Japan’s Kie Nakanishi in straight games.
Shiori Saito awaited her in the finals. Unfortunately, despite An Se-Young’s performance, Shiori Saito emerged victorious. However, An’s impressive showing landed her her first runner-up finish as a senior badminton player.
A month later, she traveled to Ireland to compete at the 2018 Irish Open. At the tournament, she made it to the finals, where she faced her compatriot Kim Ga Eun.
The two shuttlers battled it out in the first game, forcing An to have to score a tie-breaking two points. Fortunately, she left nothing to chance in the second game, beating Kim 21-17. Winning two games straight, An won her first International Series title and her first title as a senior badminton player!
2019: An Se Young’s Rollercoaster Breakout Year
Having found her form in 2018, An Se Young embarked on her 2019 career with confidence and more court experience. She played her first competition of the year at the 2019 China Masters. Unfortunately, she had to bow out early due to fatigue and injury, advancing no farther than the round of 32 stages.
After recuperating, she played at the 2019 Vietnam International Challenge. Regaining her form at the tournament, she breezed through the women’s singles event to reach the finals. In the final match, she faced Japan’s Hirari Mizui. Losing narrowly to her Japanese opponent, An Se Young walked away with her first medal of the year — silver.
Having bagged silver, she qualified for the World Tour. She made her World Tour debut at the 2019 New Zealand Open. At the tournament, she dominated the women’s singles event in her debut, reaching the finals.
Awaiting the up-and-coming An in the finals was China’s Li Xue Rui, the 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist. To the surprise of many, An emerged victorious, though narrowly. Winning in straight games, she won her first World Tour title.
Her World Tour success continued after her victory at the New Zealand Open. At the 2019 Canada Open, she entered as an unseeded player in the women’s singles event. Despite that, she advanced as far as the finals to face China’s Wang Zhi Yi. In straight sets, An bagged her second World Tour title.
Months later, An Se Young took part in the 2019 Hyderabad Open. In the finals, she faced Indonesia’s Yeo Jia Min in a three-game match that lasted more than an hour. Despite winning the first game, An lost the second and third, meaning she had to settle for the runner-up position.
The finals loss did little to deter her from seeking another World Tour title. Days after the Hyderabad Open, she played at the 2019 Akita Masters, where she faced Japan’s Haruko Suzuki in the finals. The match was a nail-biting spectacle, with both players forcing it into a third game. In the end, An emerged victorious, redeeming herself after her loss at the Hyderabad Open.
With her third World Tour title in the bag, she set her sights on another one. Her next hunting ground would be the 2019 Denmark Open. Sadly, she advanced no further than the quarterfinals, losing to Spain’s Carolina Marin.
Hungry for gold and redemption, An Se-Young competed at the 2019 French Open. This time, she made it to the finals after defeating Akane Yamaguchi in the semis.
Advancing to the finals, An came face to face with the player who defeated her at the Denmark Open, Carolina Marin.
The match was fierce. Both players forced the match into a third game. However, with victory within reach, An Se-Young pulled out all the stops, winning 21-5. She didn’t just chalk up another World Tour title; she avenged her Denmark Open loss.
With four World Tour titles in 2019, An Se-Young took the badminton world by storm. On November 12, 2019, she won the BWF award for Most Promising Player.
World Tour Success From 2021 to 2023
An Se Young continued to impress onlookers with her performances at the BWF World Tour. In 2021, she won her first BWF World Tour title at the 2021 Indonesia Masters after beating Akane Yamaguchi again in the finals.
She then followed her victory up with another stellar finish at the 2021 Indonesia Open. At the tournament, she defeated Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon in two straight games.
The 2021 title run didn’t stop there. At the 2021 World Tour Finals, An Se Young breezed through the women’s singles event to meet India’s Pusarla V. Sindhu in the finals. Dominantly, An won the match, winning her first World Tour Finals title and capping her 2021 campaign on a high note.
In 2022, An Se Young opened her title tab with an impressive victory at the 2022 Korea Open. She won the admiration and hearts of the South Korean crowd after beating Thailand’s formidable Pornpawee Chochuwong.
With the victory in Suncheon, An headed to the 2022 Korea Masters, which took place in her hometown of Gwangju. Reaching the semi-finals, she went against China’s He Bing Jiao. Unfortunately, An lost to her opponent in straight games.
However, An bounced back three months later with title wins at the 2022 Malaysia Masters and Australian Open.
Early 2023 saw the young South Korean shuttler in her most dominant form. Opening up 2023 with confidence, An Se Young put on a show-stopping performance in the finals of the 2023 Malaysia Open against Akane Yamaguchi. By this time, Akane Yamaguchi had already climbed the top of the World Rankings — and An Se Young was already a World Number Two Seed.
The two shuttlers battled for supremacy in a match that went the distance. Despite losing, An walked away with a silver medal.
An and Yamaguchi met once again a few days after the Malaysia Open. The two shuttlers squared off again in the finals of the 2023 India Open. Like many of their encounters, the game went the distance, with both players winning one game apiece.
In the third game, Akane Yamaguchi committed a service error that gave An the pivotal 21st point. Winning the match, An won her first title for 2023. By doing so, she solidified her number two position in the World Rankings.
The Future Looks Bright for An Se-Young
In just two years, An Se Young quickly established herself as one of the best women’s singles players in badminton. Because of her title victories, it’s exciting to think of what this young shuttler from Gwangju will accomplish next.
Whatever she achieves, one thing is certain — it’s only a matter of time before she reigns atop the World Rankings! Tune in to the games to find out. I will be!
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