An Se Young finals triumph over Li Xuerui
If 17-year-old Se Young An (Korea) had any nerves, she wasn’t showing them in her first HSBC BWF Tour Final and clearly the biggest match of her young career as she raced out of the blocks against the 2012 Olympic champion Li Xuerui (China) at the Barfoot & Thompson New Zealand Open.
Showing great speed and court craft, An responded to everything that her much more experienced opponent could throw at her in the opening moments of the match, winning a close and enthralling game 21-19.
The two went point for point through the opening half of the second game, before An made the crucial and in the end match winning break to ease out to 15-10, and the Korean supporters in the packed stadium knew a huge upset was on the cards.
With 27 HSBC BWF Tour titles to her storied career as well as that London Olympic gold, Li Xuerui was not going to lose easily though, and tried everything to get back into the match.
It proved to no avail though, as this star of the future well and truly arrived on the international stage today at the Barfoot & Thompson NZ Open, closing out the match 21-15.
Almost overcome by the moment, An Se Young has lofty aspirations in the sport.
“I have been doing extra training by myself, but I didn’t expect to win so early. But I am working hard and already playing against the top players with more experience, but I will prepare the best I can and aim to be top in the world, go to the World Champs and Olympics.”
Her mental strength has been incredible for someone so young, but it is not by accident.
“My father has a background in boxing, so my mental strength is helped by him, but also my personality is that of a very strong mind.”
Celebrations very much include her team mates tonight in Auckland.
“I am the youngest on the national team, I want to go for coffee, ice cream or dinner with my team mates when we get back.”