When one legend calls time on a career, another resurfaces.
As worldwide tremors gradually subside on Lee Chong Wei’s heartfelt departure from the game he has bossed for some 19 years, the badminton world is set to welcome another legendary pair back to the fold.
Enter stage right former world number one duo, Lee Yong Dae and Yoo Yeon Seong. To see Yong Dae’s legendary name in a World Tour draw is no great shakes having come out of a two year retirement last year in time to win the Spanish Masters.
He has since won two titles on the re-mastered international circuit alongside Kim Gi Jung.
To see Yoo Yeon Seong back reinstated by his side for World Tour action is, however, something to get excited about. As legends go, their resurrection as a pair - to breathe greater impetus into Korea’s Olympic qualification charge - is potentially just as seismic.
After a heartwrenching split on home soil at the Korea Open in 2016, as champions no less - the two time World Championship medallists were reunited internationally for the first time in three years when they contested the Australia Open last month.
Their heralded return did not go to script with a first round exit after emerging from qualifying rounds into the main draw in Sydney.
But there is an old adage that says ‘class is permanent, form is temporary’ and the Korean pair, motivated by the shimmer of Olympic medals and a chance to renew old rivalries, would expect to recapture the understanding that will make them living, smashing proof of that.
Lest it not be forgotten that less than three years ago they had been world number one for 117 weeks – right up until Lee’s retirement took hold.
Forget the rust shaker in Sydney (it was their first airing in 20 months since a 2017 Korea Masters one-time reunion) they will, undeniably, offer a threat as Tokyo beckons.
The men’s doubles game is ever evolving; the young pretenders with fresh legs and big ideas bring an energy and panache to the higher echelons of the world order but the experienced heads with big game brains and know how in-built their legs still play a key part in proceedings on the world stage.
Ahsan and Setiawan – the YONEX All England’s reigning champions – are the perfect example if Lee and Yoo look across the field for inspiration of how their legendary game can be adapted to be title winning in today’s times. Back into the world top four after being reunited, the Indonesian ‘daddies’ remain a match for anyone, playing a brand of badminton that keeps at heart the very essence of what led them to World gold six years ago but has been remastered to cope with the demands of the world tour. Two All England crowns, albeit five years apart, says its working wonders.
The Koreans initial split was different to that of Ahsan and Setiawan but like their Indonesian adversaries, Lee and Yoo have not found the necessaart consistent level of peformance with other partners and know the value they bring to each others game.
With the bright lights of Tokyo beaming bright, it would be a brave soul who backs against Lee and Yoo leading a Korean charge to the podium.