The age of specialisation, it appeared, had made it increasingly implausible for a men’s double world titlist to emerge at the same edition. After all, that feat has been achieved by only three players in the 46 years of the World Championships; the last was in 1999.
On Sunday, Seo Seung Jae did something that no male shuttler in 24 years had – win the men’s and mixed doubles titles with two impeccable performances on finals day at the TotalEnergies BWF World Championships 2023. And with An Se Young annexing the women’s singles crown, Korea returned their best-ever performance at the World Championships with three titles.
If An Se Young’s was an expected outcome — she had been in ten previous finals this season — Seo Seung Jae and both his doubles combinations were one of several contenders.
The overwhelming favourites in the mixed were Zheng Si Wei/Huang Ya Qiong, looking for their fourth world title. Seo and Chae Yu Jung had lost all nine of their previous matches to the defending champions, although the last, at the Sudirman Cup, had seen them miss match point.
This time the Koreans overcame a patchy second game to finally make it past the mighty top seeds, 21-17 10-21 21-18.
It was a close match until the end, with the Danes prevailing in the short rallies and the Koreans when the shuttle was up in the air. Another tense end-game, another Korean victory. Seo Seung Jae had become the first male player in over two decades to become a double world champion at the same edition of the World Championships.
“Seung Jae had played a long match in the mixed doubles, so I was worried. He was physically okay, but he said if we started worrying about his condition, we could not focus on our own match. So we thought it’s better to focus on our own play, and it worked out,” said Kang.
“Of course this is due to all the support we have received and the hard work we’ve put in,” said Seo. “This is a great result for Korea. Korea haven’t had a gold medal in the last nine years, so this is a glorious moment. This isn’t just our achievement, it’s an achievement for the whole Korean team.”