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South Korea has made its mark on badminton, with many players joining the BWF rankings. While the country produces some of the best singles players in the world, South Korea is also home to the greats of the doubles division. No discussion on doubles greats would be complete without one name — Jung Jae Sung.
Jung Jae Sung is a South Korean badminton player who mainly competed in the men’s doubles division. He was born in Jeollabuk-do, South Korea, on August 25, 1982. Starting his professional badminton career in 2001, Jung Jae Sung won numerous Super Series and Grand Prix titles. He also won the All-England Open twice with Lee Yong Dae. As a two-time Olympian, Jung Jae Sung represented South Korea in the men’s doubles in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. His partnership with South Korean doubles specialist Lee Yong Dae was one of the most successful pairings in the sport’s history. Jung Jae Sung passed away in 2018 at the young age of 35.
Continue reading to learn more about Jung Jae Sung and how he cemented his legacy in men’s doubles badminton!
Early Life and Debut
Jung Jae Sung was born on August 25, 1982, in Jeonju, Jeollabuk-do, South Korea. Like most badminton greats, Jung Jae Sung picked up badminton early. Jung Jae Sung began playing badminton as soon as he turned seven, even taking part in small competitions in his hometown.
He played competitively through his adolescent years. When he turned 18, he decided to play badminton at a higher level. He debuted at the 1999 Asia Junior Championships at Yangon, playing in the boy’s doubles event alongside Heo Hoon-Hol.
The pair played skillfully, reaching the semifinals. Unfortunately, Jung Jae Sung and Heo Hoon Hoi lost by a walkover in the semifinals, allowing China’s Xiao Li and Xie Zhingbo to advance to the finals. Nevertheless, Jung Jae Sung and his partner won bronze in the boy’s doubles event of the competition.
The experience proved formative for the young Jung Jae Sung, as the loss did little to prevent him from competing. He would continue to build his junior badminton resume the following year.
Jung Jae Sung’s Junior Career
The opportunity to do so presented itself at the 2000 Korea Open, where Jung Jae Sung competed again as a men’s doubles badminton player.
At the 2000 Korea Open, Jung Jae Sung partnered with Jung Sung Gyun. Jung Jae Sung and Jung Sung Gyun advanced past the boy’s doubles qualifiers. However, they lost at the round of 16, tasting elimination early.
In the months following his performance at the 2000 Korea Open, Jun Jae Sung competed in several other tournaments. His showings gave him enough experience to enter the South Korean National junior team.
Jung Jae Sung competed at the 2000 Asian Junior Championships as part of the team. This time, he paired with Lee Jae Jin, another young up-and-comer on the national team. Jung Jae Sung and Lee Jae Jin bested several pairs, reaching the semifinals.
In the semifinals, Jung Jae Sung, along with Lee Jae In, faced Cao Chen and Xie Zhongbo. The young and hungry South Korean pair dispatched their Chinese opponents, winning two straight games.
With the victory, Jung Jae Sung and Lee Jae In made it to the finals. They faced the duo of Sang Yang and Zheng Bo in a match that went the distance.
Sang Yang and Zheng Bo secured a narrow win in the first game, 17 – 16. Jung and Lee made a dramatic comeback in the second game, beating the Chinese pair 15 – 11.
The third game went the way of Sang Yang and Zheng Bo. The pair from China defeated Jung Jae Sung and Lee Jae Jin, claiming the gold medal for the boy’s doubles event. Jung Jae-sung and Lee Jae-In won silver.
Early Professional Career — Building the Foundations
Jung Jae Sung officially turned pro in 2001. Jung made his professional debut at the 2001 Korea Open on January 14. Jung Jae Sung competed in both the men’s and mixed doubles events, but unfortunately lost early.
However, Jung Jae Sung bounced back at the 2001 Swiss Open. At the time, his partner was Ha Tae Kwon — an older badminton doubles player who had just competed in the 2000 Olympics.
Jung Jae Sung and Ha Tae Kwon lost in the semifinals, settling for the bronze medal. Despite the loss, the pairing was the professional boost that Jung Jae Sung needed, giving him his first medal as a pro.
For much of 2002 and 2003, Jung Jae Sung remained largely inactive. Returning to international competition in 2004, Jung Jae Sung competed at the Korea Open and the Asia Championships. Jung Jae Sung competed in the men’s and mixed doubles events, but failed to produce podium-worthy finishes at either competition.
Jung Jae Sung bounced back at the 2004 Vietnam Satelite when he paired with Hwang Ji Man. Jung Jae Sung and Hwang Ji Man made it to the finals to face Indonesia’s Rian Sukmawan and Ukikasah Yoga. Despite losing in their finals match, Jung Jae Sung and Hwang Ji Man bagged silver.
On January 30, 2005, Jung Jae Sung partnered with Lee Jae Jin to compete at the Korea Open. There, Jung and Lee made it to the quarterfinals. The pair bagged bronze after losing to Indonesia’s Sigit Budiarto and Candra Wijaya.
Jung Jae Sung and Lee Jae Jin also won bronze at the 2005 Yonex German Open. However, the pair would taste gold weeks later.
On March 29, 2005, Jung Jae Sung and Lee Jae Jin played at the 2005 Thailand Open. There, Jung Jae Sung and Lee Jae Jin reached the finals. Standing between them and gold medals were Denmark’s Lars Paaske and Jonas Rasmussen.
Hungry for gold, Jung and Lee showed their Danish opponents no corner, defeating them in two straight games. Jung Jae Sung had finally won his first gold medal from a major tournament as a professional.
On September 11, 2005, Jung Jae Sung and Lee Jae Jin played at the 2005 Asia Badminton Championships. The South Korean pair joined the tournament following their World Championship quarterfinal performance.
In the Asia Badminton Championship finals, Jung Jae Sung and Lee Jae Jin faced Indonesia’s Markis Kido and Hendra Setiawan. Unfortunately, the formidable Indonesian pair made short work of their South Korean opponents, defeating them in two games. This defeat meant that Jung Jae-sung and Lee Jae-In had to settle for silver.
Partnership with Lee Yong Dae
By 2006, Jung Jae Sung had already played with several partners. The lack of gold medals was a sign that he needed a change. In 2006, he formed a partnership with Lee Yong Dae — a decision that would lead to one of the most successful partnerships in all of badminton!
Here, Jung Jae Sung faced a duo consisting of two of his former partners — Lee Jae Jin and Hwang Ji Man. Even so, Jung Jae Sung and Lee Yong Dae barely broke a sweat defeating their opponents in the finals. The win brought the newly formed pair another gold medal for the trophy cabinet, and they didn’t stop at the Thailand Open.
Jung Jae Sung and Lee Yong Dae faced Lee Jae Jin and Hwang Ji Man again at the 2007 Korea Open. Once again, Jung Jae Sung and Lee Yong Dae defeated their opponents, winning another gold medal.
In 2008, Jung Jae Sung and Lee Yong Dae placed the Beijing Olympics in their sights. En route to the Olympics, the pair captured back-to-back Super Series wins at the 2008 All England and 2008 Swiss Open.
Since his pairing with Lee Yong Dae, Jung Jae Sung won more gold titles in a year than he had in his past six years as a professional badminton player.
Jung Jae Sung represented South Korea in the Olympics twice, in 2008 and 2012. In both games, he competed alongside Lee Yong Dae.
The 2008 Beijing Olympics was the first Olympic event for the pair. Unfortunately, they bowed out of the tournament after the round of 16. Despite losing in the men’s doubles, Jung Jae Sung’s partner, Lee Yong Dae, bagged gold in the mixed doubles event.
Jung Jae Sung returned with Lee Yong Dae at the 2012 Olympics, garnering better results than their previous outing. The pair made it to the quarterfinals, where they faced Malaysia’s Kien Keat Koo and Tan Boon Heong.
Jung Jae Sung and Lee Yong Dae won the quarterfinals match in two straight games. In the first game, Jung and Lee narrowly beat their Malaysian opponents 23 – 21. The second game’s outcome was more decisive, being won by the South Korean duo 21 – 10.
This win allowed Jung Jae Sung and Lee Yong Dae to advance to the semifinals. However, they lost to Denmark’s Mathias Bow and Carsten Mogensen. Hence, Jung Jae Sung and Lee Yong Dae had to settle for bronze in the men’s doubles event of the 2012 Olympics.
Success at the Super Series and Grand Prix
Jung Jae Sung’s success between Olympic events more than sufficed to obscure his Olympic gold medal drought. Between Olympic events, Jung Jae Sung and Lee Yong Dae boasted 13 Super Series titles and four Grand Prix titles.
Following the 2008 Olympics, Jung Jae-sung and Lee Yong Dae notched a hat-trick of title wins at the China Open, Hong Kong Open, and Korea International Challenge. To cap off 2008, Jung Jae Sung and Lee Yong Dae put on an impressive performance at the World Super Series Masters Finals, winning silver in the tournament.
2009 was a title-filled year for Jung Jae Sung. Not only did he and Lee Yong Dae capture the top spot at the start of the year, but he also chalked up six title wins with Lee Yong Dae.
Jung Jae Sung kicked off an impressive 2009 campaign with a gold medal finish at the Malaysia Super Series. Here, Jung Jae Sung and Lee Yong Dae defeated the formidable Indonesian pair of Alvent Yuliandro Chandra and Hendra Aprida Gunawan for the gold medal.
The 2009 title haul didn’t stop there; Jung and Lee won the Indonesia Super Series and their second Hong Kong Open and China Open titles. Jung Jae Sung and Lee Yong Dae also went on to win the 2009 Korea International Challenge and the Super Series Masters Finals.
2010 was an equally impressive year for Jung Jae Sung. He and Lee Yong Dae spearheaded their 2010 campaign with a dominant performance at home at the Korea Super Series. They finished 2010 with title wins at the Chinese Taipei Grand Prix, Korea Open, and China Open.
Jung Jae Sung and Lee Yong Dae were in their top form between 2011 and 2012, amassing six more Super Series titles for their trophy cabinets.
In 2011, the pair dominated opponents at the Korea Open again, as well as the German Open Grand Prix Gold. Jung Jae Sung and Lee Yong Dae followed this up with back-to-back wins at the Denmark Open and French Open.
Before the Olympics, Jung Jae Sung and Lee Yong Dae won the 2012 All England and the Indonesia Open. These victories solidified Jung Jae Sung and Lee Yong Dae as one of the most successful pairs at the time — Olympic gold or none.
Retirement and Death
The 2012 Olympics was the swan song of Jung Jae Sung’s international badminton career. After the Olympics, Jung Jae Sung announced his retirement with tears in his eyes and an Olympic bronze medal.
Six years after his announcement, the badminton world was shocked following his passing. According to a press release by the Badminton World Federation, Jung Jae Sung died from a heart attack. Jung Jae Sung passed away on March 9, 2018, at the young age of 35.
Badminton fans and players around the world were saddened by the passing of a legend. The BWF noted in the press release that he was a popular figure in the sport who exuded energy with each game.
A Legend of the Sport
Jung Jae Sung was an energetic badminton player who amazed fans with his backcourt prowess and energy. His skills and energy were his keys to solidifying himself as one of the greats in doubles badminton. More than his titles and accolades, Jung Jae Sung is an excellent example of a man who lived and breathed badminton.
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