Asian Games: Lee Hyun-Il Lee is South Korea's Secret Badminton Weapon

Updated: 24 September 2014 13:20 IST

Lee Hyun-Il was part of the last South Korea men's team to win gold at the Asian Games in 2002 and has lost out in bronze play-offs in two Summer Olympics -- last time to China's Chen Long in London 2012, after which he retired from the international competition.

Asian Games: Lee Hyun-Il Lee is South Korea's Secret Badminton Weapon
The veteran Lee made a comeback for the Asian Games. © AP

Incheon:

Veteran comeback kid Lee Hyun-Il spoke of his pride at sealing gold for the South Korea badminton men's team against China after being recalled from retirement as the hosts' secret weapon. (Full Coverage | Medal Tally)

An epic five-hour battle on Tuesday went to a fifth-match decider which saw 34-year-old Lee take out China's Gao Huan -- 10 years his junior -- in two games.

"I'm very proud of winning a gold medal with my younger teammates," Lee told reporters.

"I just came back for this Asian Games because the national team asked me -- I was still playing at club level and will retire from badminton completely in a few years, so it's great to win here."

Lee was part of the last South Korea men's team to win gold at the Asian Games in 2002 and has lost out in bronze play-offs in two Summer Olympics -- last time to China's Chen Long in London 2012, after which he retired from the international competition. (Day 5 Updates)

But the Korean, who has repeatedly stepped down only to be coaxed back into the national squad, was resurrected for this year's Asian Games on his home turf.

Despite the age difference, Lee dominated in the final, matching Gao for ability and speed.

The stadium erupted as he finally sealed the match 21-14, 21-18 and was bundled to the ground by his teammates.

The regular recalling of Lee has raised questions over the strength the South Korean men's squad, which shines in doubles but is weaker in singles.

And even that advantage may be under threat as doubles star Lee Yong-Dae, 28, hinted at his own retirement after winning gold.

"I feel like this is going to be my last Asian Games, so I want to do well," he told reporters.

"We've been in second place many times to the Chinese and we're so happy to get a gold in Korea."

Lee and partner Yoo Yeon-Seong, the world number ones, are also favourites for gold in the men's doubles competition which gets under way Wednesday.

Topics : Asian Games 2014 Badminton
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